Streaks are a big thing in sports, and David Delooper has an impressive one going at the moment. For the past 28 straight days, the Philadelphia resident has appeared in costume on the Jumbotrons of 28 different NBA teams.
And he’s headed to the Valley to keep the streak going.
Delooper will be attending tonight’s Phoenix Suns game against the Indiana Pacers at Talking Stick Resort Arena in hopes of being featured on the big screens inside the venue.
It’ll be easy for the team’s camera crew to spot the dude, considering he’ll be dancing in the stands while dressed as a giant smiley face.
“I’m going to do my best to get their attention,” Delooper says. “It's been a good run so far. Fingers crossed that I can keep it going in Phoenix.”
Delooper, a 28-year-old communications manager for Red Bull, is on a quest to show up on the Jumbotrons of all 30 teams in the NBA in 30 days. Dubbed “30 for 30 for 30,” it's an amazing act of sports nerdery and what the die-hard basketball fan calls a “dream trip.”
“It's definitely been a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see every stadium and every NBA team play,” he tells Phoenix New Times via phone while traveling between Houston and Dallas.
Delooper’s quest, which started on Christmas Day in Philadelphia, and has taken him across the U.S. and into Canada. Phoenix is his second-to-last stop on the journey, which wraps up on Friday in Portland, Oregon.
He’s been planning the trip for over a year. His love of basketball started in 2017 after playing pickup games with friends evolved into a hardcore NBA fandom. He also worked with the league’s players and teams through his job with Red Bull.
“I fell in love with the NBA, and I knew I wanted to visit every stadium, and I knew I wanted to make it a challenge and do it in 30 days,” Delooper says.
So he saved money, raised $1,300 on GoFundMe, and began planning. Delooper pored over NBA game schedules in order to arrange a route allowing him to hit all 30 cities in 30 days and enlisted his friend Colin Kerrigan, a freelance photographer and journalist, to ride along and document the journey.
He also wanted to make it a unique experience. Cross-country trips to see every stadium in a particular league have been a thing for decades. Delooper added a gonzo spin by wanting to appear on the Jumbotron at every venue.
His surefire method of getting on camera? Making an absolute spectacle of himself. Delooper dresses in a different costume inspired by each team and busts out dorktastic dance moves to catch the attention of camera crews during crowd segments at games.
He was a George Washington-esque patriot in Philadelphia and Thor at an Oklahoma City Thunder game. In Toronto, Delooper came as a man riding a dinosaur to watch the Raptors play. And Cleveland Cavaliers fans got to watch him sword-fight with a friend while dressed as a pirate.
“I try to do a theme … some are better than others,” Delooper says. “In San Antonio, I dressed up like Batman, which is funny because they have a history of bats being inside their stadium. So I try to be topically relevant and try to have fun.”
Tonight in Phoenix, for instance, he decided to dress as a smiley face because its “this bright yellow circle like the sun, and it has a sunny disposition.”
Delooper got all his outfits on the cheap after hitting up Spirit Halloween and Party City locations in Philadelphia the day after Halloween when “everything was 70 to 80 percent off.”
“It’s really fun being in costume,” Delooper says. “It helps me relate to the fanbase of each team, and it’s a key part in helping me get on camera.”
His dance moves, which range from flexing to flossing, also help, even if they’re (admittedly) nothing to brag about.
“Oh, my moves are sub-par, to say the least, but that's okay. I wish I'd taken dance classes before this trip started or watched a few YouTube videos to practice,” Delooper says. “The biggest thing is that I have fun with it, and the cameramen want to see energy and people doing silly, goofy, funny stuff.”
Delooper has had some memorable experiences interacting with both fans and team mascots in a few different cities. In Chicago, Benny the Bull dumped out two enormous bags of popcorn on his head while The Coyote, the mascot of the San Antonio Spurs, ensnared him in a giant butterfly net.
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“I was surprised at that,” Delooper says. “He totally caught me off-guard.”
Here’s hoping he crosses paths with the Phoenix Suns’ Gorilla at the game tonight at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Delooper isn’t worried about whether or not he’ll get on the Jumbotron, though. “It's picked up enough momentum that it's gotten easier throughout the trip,” he says. “It’s all about having the right amount of energy and dance moves.”
Phoenix Suns versus Indiana Pacers is scheduled for Wednesday, January 22, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 to $1,502.