January 21, 2020
David DeLooper loves basketball and is a die-hard NBA fan. The Fishtown resident regularly attends NBA games, and one of his favorite aspects of the experience are the people who get on the jumbotron.
“Whether the home team is losing by 20 or winning by 20, the person who gets on the jumbotron can just change the entire atmosphere in an arena,” DeLooper said.
Then the 28-year-old — a senior communications manager for Red Bull in the Mid-Atlantic region — had the idea to combine his love for basketball and his desire to appear on the arena's video board during the game: DeLooper would go to 30 NBA games in 30 days and get on all 30 big screens.
He had been thinking about doing it for a year, but it all came together in August when the 2019-2020 league schedule came out. He was also able to convince his friend, 31-year-old freelance photographer and filmmaker Colin Kerrigan, to come along on the trip and document their journey across the country.
DeLooper said it took him everyday for two weeks to plan everything out, and he scheduled which arenas and games to visit by proximity and what made sense travelwise. For example, he scheduled his visits to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio in consecutive days.
Their quest began Christmas Day in Philadelphia — where DeLooper had just moved in June — when the Sixers blew out the Milwaukee Bucks at the Wells Fargo Center. DeLooper said that “every game has been great to watch”.
“It’s really cool seeing the NBA arenas and experiences because it’s not just about what happens on the court,” DeLooper said. “It’s about the fans and experience in the stands.”
As of Tuesday, DeLooper and Kerrigan have been to 27 NBA games and appeared on all 27 jumbotrons. A key to getting on the arena screen, DeLooper said, has been attending as many national TV games as possible because those will have more commercials, which likely will lead to more opportunities.
His most recent appearance on the jumbotron happened Monday night in Houston when the Rockets played the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was one of the games DeLooper had been looking forward to most on the trip because of the opportunity to see James Harden and Russell Westbrook play in person, as well as the “wild” atmosphere that exists at Rockets game in the Toyota Center.
DeLooper wears a different outfit and costume to each game, in hopes of more easily catching the eye of the big screen's camera operators, and on Monday night in Houston, he dressed up as an astronaut.
DeLooper said the Staples Center has been the best arena he and Kerrigan, also from Fishtown, have attended on the trip. They were able to see two games in one day in Los Angeles on Jan 5 – the Los Angeles Clippers played the New York Knicks in the afternoon; then the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Detroit Pistons later that night.
DeLooper has also had some memorable experiences with team mascots on the trip. Dressed up as a bull on Jan. 10, DeLooper he appeared on the United Center's new, high-tech scoreboard with Chicago Bulls’ mascot Benny the Bull and dumped popcorn on the entire section where he was sitting. He also hugged the Toronto Raptors’ mascot when he and Kerrigan traveled to Canada on Jan. 12.
Game 20 ✅ As @Drake would say, no new friends... except @the_raptor who surprised me with the best hug of my life. Thank you @Raptors for a great night! See you tomorrow @Pacers ! #30for30for30 pic.twitter.com/mBzFnkBfEi— 30for30for30 (@30for30for30) January 13, 2020
DeLooper said that the two players who have stood out the most on their trip have been Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker and Detroit Pistons point guard Derrick Rose, who also happens to be a reported trade target for the Sixers.
DeLooper hasn't calculated how much the trip has cost, but he described it as "scrappy" as he and Kerrigan have sought to stay with friends in NBA cities and eat fast food as much as possible to keep expenses low.
A life-long Knicks fan, DeLooper has begun making the transition to Sixers fandom since moving to Philly this past year. He admitted that he feels bad that he is jumping on the 76ers bandwagon after most fans — including his own buddy Kerrigan —suffered through “The Process” years.
DeLooper described the Wells Fargo Center as the most hostile environment he and Kerrigan have traveled to so, which makes him confident about the Sixers’ chances this season.
“They’re really fun to watch and I think they really can go far,” he said. “They’re built for the playoffs, and they have the size and athleticism that can last. They got what it takes to make a deep run.”
And the best game the friends have attended involved the Sixers, but it wasn’t a victory for Philadelphia. It was in Indiana on Jan. 13 when the Pacers knocked off the 76ers.
As of Tuesday, DeLooper and Kerrigan have three games left on their trip. They travel to Dallas tonight to watch the Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers, followed by a date in Phoenix on Wednesday when the Suns take on the Indiana Pacers. The final game of the journey will be Thursday night in Portland when the Trail Blazers host the Mavericks.
You can follow their journey on Twitter @30for30for30 and Instagram @30for30for30_ to see if they can appear on the video scoreboards at 30 NBA arenas.