Sorry America, But We Ain't Safe: A Review from the NBA Finals Road
Please don't take this as a complaint. More of an -- as I do from time to time, and always -- observation.
I love my job(s). Getting paid to attend sporting events is all I ever wanted to do since the day I realized I'd grow up to be too short and too unathletic to play for a living.
And if and when the Cowboys go to a Super Bowl I'll gleefully skip through every hoop and hurdle and security line. That being said, I was a little alarmed by the security surrounding the NBA Finals.
I know Osama Bin Laden is dead and gone, but it just feels to me like things have relaxed from irrationally high alert to a leisurely, careless walk in the park.
At American Airlines Arena in Miami they had bomb-sniffing dogs to check bags, but not once did security personnel check to make sure the ugly mug on my credential matched the uglier one atop my actual neck. And, truth be told, on my way in to Game 6 no one looked inside my bag at all.
At American Airlines Center the media was subjected to human bag searches and metal-detecting wand scans, but again, not a look to see if credentials matched carrier.
But that's only the tip of the trouble.
In Miami I stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental. Upscale, but not luxurious. On Monday a certain leader of the free world was there for a fundraising dinner en route to praising the Mavs' J.J. Barea in Puerto Rico.
After my afternoon radio show on 105.3 The Fan from a studio in Miami I drove up to the hotel, only to be stopped by a gaggle of state troopers, local police and what I assumed to be Secret Service agents protecting the well-being of President Barack Obama. There were cop cars all along the freeways and downtown, re-routing traffic away from the hotel.
But this -- swear -- was the extent of my exchange as I pulled up in my rented silver Jeep Patriot:
Officer: You staying at the hotel?
Officer: Room number?
Officer (as he flips through a thick stack of white papers on a clipboard): Mr. Whitt?
Me: Yessir, that's me.
Officer: Okay, pop your trunk and your hood.
After one agent waved that mirror-on-a-stick under the car for a minute and another took a flashlight to parts of the engine, I was waved on to valet parking.
Before we drove away Greggo ridiculously asked, "Hey, what's this all about?" The incredulous retort: "There's VIP at the hotel."
Troubling part: Both Greggo and I had computer bags in the back seat directly behind us. At no time were they checked. And at no time was either of us asked to show identification. Not sure exactly how they were convinced I was a harmless Mr. Whitt. Shouldn't he have made me cough up my name instead of just having me nod to whatever name he spit out?
Again, maybe there were agents eyeing us for miles as we approached the hotel. Maybe background checks were performed on every guest in the hotel and security didn't sense a viable threat from a short, douchey media dork. And maybe that stack of papers had my entire bio on it. Who knows?
But without showing ID, without having my bag checked and without another question I was allowed to give the car to valet and walk into the hotel lobby. At that point -- not that I ever would, obviously -- couldn't I have detonated some sorta explosive device in that bag that could've done severe damage?
I did have to go through a metal detector with my bag before entering the elevator to my room. But still...
On the way back to Dallas the next morning another "breach."
The TSA employee running the X-ray machine at Miami International Airport was giddy at finding and confiscating Greggo's unopened plastic bottle of orange Gatorade. But while she was gloating at her find, she somehow missed something else:
My 3/4-full plastic bottle of previously opened Evian water.
God bless America.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.