A nagging calf injury and a family health issue kept Brent Barry from laying free tickets to Rockets' road games on unsuspecting citizens for a three-game stretch at the start of December. Then, the Rockets' schedule took them to places—Minnesota and New Jersey—where attending an NBA game just isn't that high on the priority list.
The Timberwolves don't rate above a holiday party these days, apparently, since that was the excuse two different people gave for not taking up Barry on his offer. He finally presented his freebies to the doorman at the team hotel, but a few days after the game his phone mysteriously went out of service and it's not clear if the guy actually went. Barry figured it might be equally hard with the Rockets staying in Manhattan to find someone eager to take in a Monday night Nets' game at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. He thought he'd lucked out when a man, looking like a former baller at 6'8", said he'd be delighted to take his two 20-something sons, but Barry's doubts returned when the man said to leave the tickets at will call under the name Ron(ald) McDonald. The tickets went unused. "I did a bad thing," McDonald said. "I told him I was going to go, but I couldn't get coverage at work and my sons were out of pocket."
Cleveland is where Barry made his next attempt while doing a little Christmas shopping. Tamela Sutton, a Borders bookstore cashier, didn't know who Barry was but guessed by his height he was a basketball player. When she found he was with the Rockets, she joked, "When you see my husband, Tracy McGrady, tell him I'm still waiting for his call."
Bingo. Sutton, 22, had a pair of tickets to see one of her two favorite players—Kevin Garnett is the other—in person for the first time. "I went by myself but I was happy," she said. "It was exciting. I was a little disappointed in Tracy, though. No hug, no kiss, no 'I love you, baby.' No 'thank you for your support.'"
"He's a good player, but he's arrogant," she said. "KG and Tracy are the ones for me. I'll support them 100 percent, wherever they play."