These last 24 hours have been so amazing and tiring. Finding out at 4 p.m.Tuesday that I was the winner of the Jet Blue Fly Me To contest to Orlando was such a shock. The original winner backed out at the last moment and it was Next Man Up. My name was the next on the list.
I had to let everyone know...
Complimentary airfare and hotel accommodations! Thanks to Jet Blue, we were booked within ten minutes of receiving the call! And since I could bring someone along, I decided to call my friend Anthony and simply asked “What are you doing tomorrow and Thursday?” He said “nothing, what’s up?” I was like “Were going to Orlando for the Nets game, hotel and airfare is included!”
That night I quickly threw a bag together, with plenty of Nets gear, of course, and attempted to get some rest before leaving for the airport for our flight to Orlando. Got little to no sleep cause I was so excited for the day to come. We left Marlboro, New Jersey at 4 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight out of LaGuardia, a 60-mile drive.
The flight was on time and we arrived in Orlando at 10:30 and got in a Lyft from the Airport to the hotel we were staying at, Marriott Downtown Orlando. The Hotel was 4 blocks from the Amway Center.
After putting our bags in the room, there was no time to waste. We got in a Lyft and went to Universal Studios. We got to the theme park at 11:30, and we’re able to get on every ride in the park by 4:00. I’ve been going to Orlando on vacation my whole life and have never been there without going to Disney or Universal Studios during trips. No matter how much time we had, there’s no way I was leaving Orlando not going to one of the parks. We left Universal at 4:30 to go back to the hotel.
Now it’s time for the game. We left the hotel, a short walk from the Amway Center and we got to the arena at 5:30 when the arena doors opened.
Amway Center lets fans into the arena at 5:30, but doesn’t allow you to go to your seats until 6:00. Once we were allowed in we immediately went to our seats, which were behind the Nets bench. In the same row were Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon, who we learned are beyond professional and down-to-earth guys.
I had to let the Brigade guys know of course.
Sitting a few seats away from Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon— Zac Cullen (@ZCullen8) March 29, 2018
There was a good number of Nets fans in attendance, easily spotted by their black-and-white gear. Some fans went up to Sean and Trajan to show their support. We heard their interactions with fans who just wanted to thank them for “beginning to take us out of the hole” left behind by our previous brass.
The seats of course were great.
The game was great ... as it is whenever the Nets lead wire-to-wire and of course WIN! It was a welcome relief after some back luck in choosing games this season. I hadn’t been to a win since October 22, 2017 in Brooklyn. Guess I had to be in Orlando to see my second win in person this season.
To make things even more special, YES found out where we were sitting and zoomed in on us during their game coverage. A number of our friends tweeted it out.
And we got lucky!
Before the game, a New Jersey Nets fan who has settled in Florida — @itsspecialed on Twitter — told me that he was going to the game as well. We weren’t able to meet up with him at the game, but afterwards, Anthony and I went to Downtown Disney Springs and, lo and behold, we ran into Ed there at Ghirardelli getting ice cream. Ed has the same love for the team as I and other hardcore fans do, so we had a good conversation about the team.
Then it was pack-up and head back to the airport, loaded with Nets swag, but early again.
This was such an amazing experience. It was by far the craziest 24 hours of my life and I will never forget it ... thanks to the Nets.
Of course, I’d be ready to do it again. As another Florida-based fan suggested after the game...