There are basketball fans, and then there’s David Delooper. Delooper, along with his pal (and freelance photographer/filmmaker) Colin Kerrigan, are taking a love of hoops to new heights with an ambitious project that has them hitting 30 cities in 30 days to land on each team’s jumbotron.
“To me, this trip has been a once-in-a-lifetime thing to see every arena, the fan base, and the culture of each NBA team and city.”
Each night, Delooper dons his team-specific costume—that has varied from a Benjamin Franklin at Philly’s Christmas Day game to a Knicks-loving Statue of Liberty to an inflatable dinosaur for Toronto’s own Raptors. With a game plan to get the attention of the cameras (read: eye-catching costumes and dance moves), he’s managed to make it on all so far without a hitch.
As the pair head into the final stretch of their journey, we checked in with Delooper to chat about the experience so far, including some near trouble at the border (was it the costumes?), his take on the Toronto fans, and plans for hitting the big 3-0.
How do you feel now that you’re two-thirds of the way through the journey? Is it getting easier as you gain recognition?
At first, the journey was scary! I just had to take it day by day and make sure we got on the jumbotron. The journey is getting easier because teams know I am coming. I’ve been DM’ed by almost every single type of employee in an NBA organization from the game ops staff, sales team members, to even the mascot of a team!
You made your first and only international stop in Toronto. How was the trip across the border? Are you guys lugging all those costumes through security?
Originally, I forgot my passport, but was able to make a stop in Philadelphia during the first leg of the trip to pick it up. The border patrol asked why we were going to Canada, and we told him the story. He even asked “What are you bringing with you?” and we said “Just clothes... and a few costumes”.
This project allows you to get an inside look at each team’s fan base. How did the Raptors fans measure up?
The atmosphere was incredible. Everyone was wearing Raptors merch. It’s really cool how historic the team’s apparel is, and the colours stand out. I didn’t see too many Spurs fans or jerseys…
Also, the game presentation (especially the intro of players) was top notch and a lot of fun to watch.
You caught an exciting game for Toronto fans with DeMar DeRozan returning to Toronto for the second time since his trade. What was the energy like for that?
The tribute video was great, and the entire crowd cheered so loud. For me, it was inspiring to see how the city and fanbase supported him. From seeing old Jerseys to hearing fans reminisce about his playing days, it seemed everyone would love to take him back if he had the chance.
Seeing him chat with his former teammates during the game and warmups put into perspective basketball is more than a game, it’s the relationships developed on and off the court.
You had a fun moment with the Raptors mascot that even made it on the Raptors Instagram page. Tell us about how that went down.
I actually was messaged by a video crew member and asked where my seats were. They gave me the nod to “be at my seat during the first half” right before the game, so I was a little nervous [about] what was [going] to happen. Luckily, the mascot came over and we had a lot of fun. I was wearing an inflatable raptor costume and the section around me was having a blast.
What can we expect from the rest of the journey? Do you have anything big planned for the finale game in Portland?
Well, I need to learn a few new dance moves! To be honest, my dance moves are subpar, but I really have fun. To me, I always felt seeing someone have fun on the jumbotron could positively change the atmosphere of the arena, so that’s what I’m trying to do!