Detroit and the Final Four Experience

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Friday

We left for Detroit around 9am on Friday and arrived in the motor city just before lunch time.  After picking our rental car and heading to Target to buy some cheap sunglasses since I forgot mine in VA, we made our way to my aunts house in the suburbs of Detroit.  My dosage of 2 Xanax to make it through the flight caught up with me by the time we got to their house, so I passed out on the blowup for nearly 2 hours before waking up and making it through the rest of the night.  I can’t say anything too exciting happened on Friday other than we got pizza from Little Ceasars and I went to bed at 10pm like a total loser.

One quick note about one of the first things I noticed about the state of Michigan is a thing that they refer to as the “Michigan Left.”  In most states, when we come to an intersection, we’re used to sitting at a stoplight to make our way straight through an intersection, go left, or go right.  In the lovely state of Michigan, you can’t make a left turn at any major intersection.  It might be the most annoying thing in the world.  You can either go straight only, or you can make a right, and then a few yards later, make a U-Turn to double back in the direction you intend to go.  It’s the dumbest shit ever.

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Saturday

Since I went to bed so early on Friday night, I was up at and at it at 8am.  I really don’t think anyone else in the house appreciated that.  haha.  We got ready and headed downtown around 11, as we had no idea what to expect logistics wise, AND we wanted to see some sites before the games began at 6.

We felt like the luckiest people alive when we found a parking lot 200 yards away from Ford Field that was empty and we left the car for the day.  We began looking for a cab to take us to the Detroit Institute of Arts and figured finding a hotel would be our best bet in finding a taxi.  We wandered a few blocks until we found a Hilton and quickly noticed a large gathering of Carolina Blue.  And Security.  And a gigantic bus.  We had somehow stumbled upon the home hotel for the tarheels and they were minutes away from leaving the hotel to go practice.  Talk about luck.  We were able to get some pictures of Coach Williams and the team as they got on the bus which was pretty damn awesome.

Coach Williams.

Coach Williams.

Tyler Hansbrough

Tyler Hansbrough

Wayne Ellington

Wayne Ellington

We had heard good things about the Detroit Institute of Art, so we took a cab over to the other side of the city to get our culture on.  They had a pretty nice selection of art to view, so that was really cool.  Two of my favorites, Van Gogh and Matise were prominently displayed through the museum, so I thoroughly enjoyed that.

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Van Gogh Self Portrait

Van Gogh Self Portrait

Matise.

Matise.

After touring the inside of the museum, we headed outside to see one of the four original Rodin sculptures of “The Thinker.”  It was pretty freaking impressive and was the main reason we went to the museum in the first place.

The Thinker

The Thinker

After touring the museum we were hungry for lunch, so we headed towards Ford Field to find a burger joint to have something to eat.  Bad idea.  70,000 other people had the same idea and there were lines out the door at every restaurant in the area.  Eeesh.  We thought it might be best to walk a few blocks away in hopes of finding less crowded venues, and we stumbled across the best lunch I’ve had in a while.  Located in the Westin Hotel is a restaurant called “Roast.”  I had the most amazing Goat Cheese and Chicken Macaroni and we relaxed, drank coffee and stayed warm before having to head out to the game.  As we were leaving, we realized that the Westin was the hotel that the University of Connecticut were staying in, so we were in Huskie territory and were outnumbered so we got the hell out.

We made our way over to Ford Field which is right next to the stadium the Detroit Tigers play in.  The stadium itself was awesome and I really wish we could have seen a baseball game while we were in town, but they were playing in Chicago, so no such luck.  It was just a really cool venue.

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After walking around the baseball park we ventured over to Ford Field to wait in line for 30 minutes before doors opened.  Since Michigan State was in the final four and is only located 90 miles away, there were zillions of State fans talking trash to everyone and we were surrounded by a sea of green.

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We made our way to our seats and took obligitory pictures of the stadium, final four signs and the court.

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The first game to be played was Michigan State against UConn.  I have to admit that I really wanted UConn to win because Michigan State had been on fire their last few games and I was worried that their momentum might be some true competition in the finals.  We watched the first half from our seats and then at halftime made our way to the lower level for some dinner and a better view of the rest of the game.  To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in the MSU game and was sick and tired of hearing “Go Green! Go White!”  It was so weird to be at a National Championship game where a team had “home” advantage.

State Fans psyched for their team.

State Fans psyched for their team.

The game did get exciting in the last few minutes, but Michigan State was able to pull out the win, sending the Huskins home, and the Spartan fans into a frenzy.

Winners.

Winners.

Finally around 9:30 it was time for the Carolina v. Villanova game.  Finally! We headed back to our seats to sit with the other 4 Carolina fans sitting near us and got excited for the tip off.  The game was good, Carolina dominated and we went home happy that they were headed to the Championship game on Monday.

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Victory!

Victory!

On our way out, we ran into Rasheed Wallace, who played for Carolina in the 90’s and has had a successful NBA career with the Detroit Pistons.

Rasheed!

Rasheed!

We got back to my aunts house around 1:30am where I promptly passed out.

Sunday

Since Canada is just across the river from Detroit, we decided to go over and visit our northern neighbors for the day.  We went to the city of Windsor in the province of Ontario and spent the afternoon tooling around town.  Since it was Sunday, there wasn’t much open, so we walked along the river front which had awesome views of Detroit, and then stumbled upon a tea house where we had an afternoon snack and some delicious tea.

Checking out the map of Windsor.

Checking out the map of Windsor.

Detroit Skyline from Canada.

Detroit Skyline from Canada.

Self portrait time.

Self portrait time.

Yummy Mate Chai tea.

Yummy Mate Chai tea.

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We finished up our time in Canada with some shopping and then headed back over to Michigan for some homemade lasagna thanks to my aunt, and I then proceeded to pass out by 10pm.

Monday

Championship day!  I’m not gonna lie – I woke up nervous for the game that night, but we were super excited.  The game wasn’t until 9:30, but we headed downtown around 1pm to stalk the team again and attend the “Fan Experience” put on by the NCAA at the convention center.  Our timing was ridiculously lucky again and we were among the handful of fans who had gathered at the hotel to wish the team luck as they went to practice.  As they emereged from the hotel, all of the players and Coach Williams were smiling and high fiving with us fans, with the exception of Tyler Hansbrough who walked with his head down straight onto the bus.

Hansbrough

Hansbrough

Wayne Ellington & Ty Lawson.

Wayne Ellington & Ty Lawson.

Bobby Frasor

Bobby Frasor

From the Tarheels hotel, we headed over to the Fan Experience for a few hours where we watched some pick up games, shooting competitions and other exhibitions.

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After the fan experience, we went to lunch at a yummy restaurant called 1924 where we warmed up from the cold before walking back over to Ford Field for the festivities.  We had about an hour to kill before doors opened, so we went over to the student gates and watched the battle of the Spartan fans v. Tarheels fans.  It was hilarious, as they were each chanting trash to each other.  It was seriously entertaining.

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We were in for a treat when the pre-festivities kicked off, as the Temptations (!!!!!) sang the National Anthem, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird presented the game ball, and the American flag was in the shape of the USA.

2 of the Temptations singing.

2 of the Temptations singing.

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There isn’t really much to say about the game except that Carolina pretty much dominated from the beginning.  Once we were up by 20, my nervousness about Michigan State’s momentum pretty much disappeared.

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At halftime we ran into living legend Dick Vitale and NFL star Plaxico Burress.

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After halftime, a lot of the Michigan State fans were leaving the game, so we were able to make our way down to the lower level for a better view.

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Celebration time.

Celebration time.

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Coach Williams cutting down the net.

Coach Williams cutting down the net.

After the game ended around midnight we went back to the Carolina hotel one last time to see the heels come bacfk from their victory.  Hansbrough again ignored the crowd, but everyone else was smiling and waving in excitement.  Wayne Ellington was named “player of the game” and was nice enough to high five the six fans waiting in the 20 degree weather to congratulate them.

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By the time we headed back to my aunts house from downtown, it was neraly 2am and we were exhausted.  I passed out somewhere around 3, we got up at 9, left at 11 for the airport and got home around 4.

All in all it was a pretty awesome trip.  I will say that Detroit is not one of the best cities I’ve ever been to, in fact a lot of times it was downright scary, but it was worth it to see Carolina win the championship.  It will definitely be an experience I’ll remember forever.

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11 thoughts on “Detroit and the Final Four Experience

  1. Haha, believe it or not that guy was a Michigan State fan who yelled at bike guy to “get a job!” He was being rude to his fellow fans…it was kind of pathetic. Haha.

  2. OK, I’m back, had to do some work, but now I am focused on your blog…

    1. I am in complete awe of how close you were to all of those stars!
    2. Yay for your dad being a UNC alumni, I’m sure he had the hook up!
    3. boo to un-fun u-turns.
    4. I seriously think THAT guy seems to think he is famous.
    5. Yay for father daughter time in DE-troiiiiiiiiiit! Boyyyyeeeeeee.
    6. I’m so glad you didn’t get shot on Eight Mile.
    7. Van Gogh was one ugly dude. Was he a train conductor too?
    8. Holy oversized map.
    9. What an adorable floral teacup! Did you have Oolong as well? Or Earl Grey?
    10. If I have sticks. Hansbrough REALLY has sticks.
    11. You look like you are 5 holding the pom-poms. Cute!
    12. Great shot of Wayne Ellington. That’s def frame able.

  3. In response to you:

    1. Yes, being near those famous people was pretty rad. We actually saw more people, but I wasn’t able to get pictures fast enough. :( I think all of them were basketball related though, no music or movie stars.

    2. Dad actually didn’t get the hook up – Michael did! I’m not sure how he got the tickets, but he was going to Vegas with a few of his buddies as a final fling before they deploy to Afghanistan in 2 weeks. We just got lucky this year!

    3. The “Michigan Left” is the stupidest idea ever.

    4. “That Guy” appears to be a tool.

    5. Father/Daughter time was fun & memorable.

    6. I DID think I was going to get shot – and NOT just on 8 mile. Scary ass city I tell you. I’d rather frolick in Southeast at 3am.

    7. Van Gogh WAS ugly.

    8. Apparently everything is bigger in Canada too.

    9. I did not have Ooooooolong – I had a Mate Chai. :)

    10. Hansbrough has ENORMOUS sticks. Like big bird.

    11. Thank you for noticing I looked like a 5 year old. I completely agree.

    12. Ellington is my fav and I couldn’t have asked for a better picture.

  4. Lets just get one thing straight Akins: The only thing I stalked was the entire Tarheels basketball team. All of those other people I stumbled upon just happened to be in the same vicinity as myself. :)

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