Sunday, June 28, 2009

Superfan’s Tour Kicks Off at The Palace

Alex Chambers had traveled before, but nothing has prepared him for his upcoming journey. Chambers arrived in Detroit early Sunday morning to kick off his 13-game, month-long trip to every WNBA arena, starting at The Palace with the Shock’s game against the Monarchs. “I’m running on about two hours of sleep!” he joked.

He chose a great night to visit, with the fans' morale skyrocketing as the Shock won their second game of the season. “Every arena’s going to have a unique experience,” Chambers said at halftime. “Getting to see the starting lineup [introductions] for each team, you don’t get to see that when [your team’s] on the road.”

He commented that Shock fans seemed “a little bit nicer to the refs” than what he was accustomed to. “In Phoenix, we let (the refs) have it. If they make a call, you can just hear the ‘boos’ from a mile away! You guys are kind of nice to the refs here…they made some really harsh calls and the crowd’s kept it in line.”

Chambers is publicizing his trip on his website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. He’s using it to generate interest about the league while promoting breast cancer awareness to honor his friend Cyndee Luque, who died from the disease last year.

Chambers interviews Katie Smith in the Shock locker room.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
“I didn’t realize how breast cancer awareness was really important until it affected me. After (Luque’s death), I saw how much the WNBA took part in promoting breast cancer awareness. So, I decided if I was able to gain any visibility for the league this summer, it would be good to also use that for something worthwhile.”

Chambers’ league-licensed “13 Games, 1 Journey” T-shirt has his friend’s name under a map of the WNBA cities he’s touring. He gave two shirts away to fans at halftime.

The league has wholeheartedly supported Chambers, directing him to various ball clubs for media credentials, not to mention great seats. A season ticketholder for the Mercury, Chambers usually gets lower-deck seats and sometimes grabs better ones when he can. At The Palace, Chambers sat courtside, a mere five seats away from the Pistons’ newest draftees.

Before the game, Chambers chatted with Plenette Pierson and Barb Farris, and visited the Shock locker room afterwards to meet Katie Smith and Cheryl Ford. Farris used to play for the Mercury, and her eyes lit up with recognition as they chatted about his trip.

“It’s been interesting getting to hear what the players say,” he said. “You really get into it and get more respect for them because you see how hard (they work).”