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A terrible day for the Rockets, and yours truly

May 18th, 2009
by John

Sunday afternoon turned out to be a horrendous day for me, and not just because the Rockets lost another Game 7.  That’s almost inconsequential the way I’m feeling right now.

As you may know from my earlier post, I decided late Saturday night to buy a ticket online from Ticketmaster under a program they call TicketExchange where you can buy tickets from season ticket holders who put their own seats up for sale to anyone who comes to the Lakers’ Ticketmaster Web site, and pick them up from “will call” the day of the game.

So I flew to LA on Sunday morning and everything was going fine.  Flight down there.  Check.  Rental car pickup.  Check.  Parking.  Check.  Laptop in hand to be able to take some notes and maybe use the Internet during the game (if Staples makes it available like Toyota Center does).  Check.

That’s when things started going south.

When I went to the will call area at Staples, they have this kiosk where you can swipe your credit card to have your will call tickets printed from the machine.  I tried doing that on two different kiosks, but it didn’t work.  The message on the kiosk screen said go to a will call ticket window staffed by a human.  So I did that.

I had my iPhone in my hand as well as my brand new Macbook, and set them down on the counter so I could reach for my wallet and pull out my ID.  (NOTE: Because I was attending this game not as part of the official media, they don’t let regular fans come in with backpacks or cases.  So I had to carry everything in my hands).

As I was giving my ID to the will call agent, all of a sudden I heard this loud “boom!” on the counter, I looked down, AND BOTH MY IPHONE AND MY MACBOOK WERE GONE!!!  I guess the loud sound was someone slamming their hand down on it and running away with it!

I looked behind me to see if anyone was fleeing the scene, but there was no one other than a whole bunch of people standing around who were in line to get their tickets.  Then I asked if anyone had seen anything, and no one did.  Then I went over to 2 police officers, and they said they didn’t see anything, either, and they couldn’t help me and that I should talk to building security.  What a waste.  Later I found out these guys were “off-duty” police officers who were hired as private contractors to stand there to deter criminals, but if anything happens, they refer you to Staples security, and you’re essentially S.O.L.  WTF??!!!!

So I basically had to become like a crazy man running around like Jim Valvano after NC State beat the University of Houston in 1983, going back-and-forth between the off-duty police, building security, and on-duty officers hoping that the thief was still in the vicinity and could be caught.  Meanwhile, every minute that elapsed was giving the thief a better chance of getting away or blending in with the crowd.

It’s a long story on what I tried to do for the next 3 hours trying to find my iPhone and Mac Book, like waiting 45 minutes for a detective to show up at the Staples Center police sub-station who could take a police report.

I couldn’t focus on the game at all and was trying to get the Staples Center security to take a closer look at the video taken from cameras above the will call area to see if they had a recording of what happened.  I had to lobby with 4 layers of bureaucracy to find the person who would ultimately watch the tape to see if they could find the perpetrator  They wouldn’t let me into their “restricted area” where all of their security monitors are, so I had to trust they were going to be diligent looking at the footage.  Meanwhile, I spent alot of time walking around Staples hoping by chance I might come across someone carrying my laptop under their arm.

I’m angry at Ticketmaster for their kiosks not working as designed.  That forced me to go to lines with lots of other people around, some with bad characters in those lines looking to prey on unsuspecting people.

All of this explains to you why I couldn’t Tweet during the game on my phone, because I didn’t have the tools to do so!  Most of the time I was working hard to get the security guys and police around Staples to work on my case.  I could see what was going on during the game through the TVs in the concourse, and because the game wasn’t going well at all, it allowed me to focus on trying to help solve the crime that just happened.

So now I’m in the process of talking to Apple, and the police, about seeing if there’s a way to recover my gear.  Luckily I password-protected my machine, so alot of my private data *should* be safe.  And of course, the major problem is the data that is on the machine may now be gone forever.  Like most people, I hadn’t backed up the data very much.  The amount of time it will take to try to piece just some of the data back together will take forever, with no way for me to put it all back together again.  Dozens of hours of work are on that machine, as well as lots of vacation photos I recently took.

As you can guess, I’m not too thrilled about writing about what happened in Game 7, partly because I didn’t see much of it, but also because it looks like all the players and myself had awful days.  So let’s try to move on without rehashing the angst.

I guess there’s also a part of me that hopes whoever stole my stuff will catch wind of this post, realize the iPhone and MacBook are no good to them since they’re both password protected, and contact me at john @ yaomingfanclub.com, and ship them to me  intact with the deal I won’t pursue prosecution after the police identifies the thief on the security camera tape.

So who would have thunk after me seeing almost every Rockets game this season, I wasn’t able to see the biggest game of the year.  Looks like I didn’t miss much.

30 Responses to “A terrible day for the Rockets, and yours truly”

  1. Shawn Says:

    Wow, I feel very sorry for your shitty day John. What amazes me was the fact that the low life that snatched your stuff wasn't seen by you or anyone around you, he must've followed you around for quite some time to look for the opportunity to strike. Maybe you should consider lowjack for your laptops if you travel a lot with them.

  2. Wendy Says:

    All in all, just a forgettable day. But a forgettable season it was not.
    Heads up John, hopefully you will get your stuff back, really hope so!

    Life goes on, let´s go into the off season with great hopes, and Morey will do his stuff again.

    I´m still kind of sad though, I´ve expected more from the game, but hey, who didn´t?

    Anyway, last but not least – thank´s John for a great job well done! Hopefully we can follow Rockets and Yao for years to come trough yaomania.com.

  3. John Teng Says:

    man, John. . I am so SORRY to hear that . . . . truly a day to forget, in every way imaginable.

  4. airchina23 Says:

    Sorry to hear that, John. If this had happened to me, I would have thought positively “hey if the Rockets will win at the expense of my phone and laptop, so be it”, but the Rockets didn't even give you that consolation prize. Man, I guess this is life though. There are better days ahead. In the mean time, don't plan any game 7 trips in the near future 🙂

    Thanks for a great season of entries as usual. Take care!

  5. Kevin Says:


    Really bad to hear this tragedy. The loss to the Lakers is another tragedy.

    You don't deserve this. I wish that the Rockets official can see this and provide some help.


  6. Phi Hwang Says:

    Hey John,
    I live outside Los Angeles and I've been checking Craigslist pretty frequently for a Mac. Perhaps you could post some details i.e. model/ color/ serial number/ special software installed and if someone sees it for sale, we could call the police?

  7. Bernie H. Says:

    John, that's awful. That kind of stuff ruins your whole week. Keep telling yourself things're bound to look up soon – they always do. In the meantime, I'm feelin' for ya.

    Also know that your work on the blog is appreciated!

  8. Jay K Says:


    I am sorry to hear about your things being snatched and the red tape you have to cut through and cut through some more. As a personw ho converted to Mac it is understandeable that the device is not just a machine to type, write, edit. So I am very sorry once again. I truly hope you get your things back.

    May i suggest buying an external hdd(not necessarily the wireless one) and jsut backup everything thru time machine. the software itself is very easy to use so no hassle.

    best wishes

  9. Esteban from CA Says:

    That's a great idea Phi. Sorry to hear about that, I live in LA and unfortunately there real shady folks here. Nevertheless, thanks for a great season and I wish you the best in retrieving your items.

  10. IK Says:

    John, feel very bad for you too. It would happen to me exactly the same way if I were in your position…

  11. Ree Says:

    Wow, I thought I was having a bad day because the Rockets lost, but it didn't come close to your fiasco. Best wishes to you, man. Let me share with you, I was having a really bad day and quite a bad several weeks when I found out you decided shut down the Yaomingmania site earlier this year. When I found out you decided to restart blogging, that brightened my life and I suspect quite a few others.

    One of these days, when Yao Ming decides to retire, you can turn this site into a Rockets page or whatever sports topic you decide to follow, I for one will keep reading your posts.

    Hopefully this will help your mood =)

  12. Jason Says:

    Dude, this is fml worthy. But anyway im seroiusly sry about what happened to you in LA. You didn't miss much of a game.

  13. Kai Says:

    John, Sorry about that mate! Not sure what we can do to help. Hang in there.

  14. Bobby Says:

    I've enjoyed your work, but never posed here before. I feel so sorry for you. I hope you can find your Mac or iPhone and cheer up soon!

  15. YaoMingMania Says:

    I'm willing to try anything. It's a silver Macbook and the serial number is the following:


  16. YaoMingMania Says:

    I want to thank everyone who is commenting here expressing their sympathy. I know it's just a laptop and phone, but the information on that Macbook will never be able to be replaced, which is a sad thing for me, and I'll always have in the back of my mind that someone may have access to my financial data, which is unsettling.

    The other part about this is that if someone is so brazen to steal something in broad daylight with me standing right next to it, and with dozens of people who could witness it, then it makes me think that people could get mugged or killed pulling cash out of an ATM with cameras recording the whole thing, which I've heard of happening. What has this world come to?

  17. koensayr Says:

    Oh man, John, so sorry to hear that. I hope they can get some more information from those security videos. It's hard to imagine that all those people standing behind you didn't see what happened. What did the “boom” that you heard sound like? I can't imagine what I would do if I lost my laptop with all the data on there. Let us know if there's anything we can help with. I live in West LA, and I'm sure there are quite a few other frequent visitors of this website from the LA area.

  18. Josh Says:

    Sorry to hear about this, John!
    Hopefully everything will work out for you!
    So … another reason to dislike L.A. huh?

  19. YaoMingMania Says:

    Thanks, the next time I get one (if I do), I'll learn how to use Time
    Machine and get an external hard drive.

  20. YaoMingMania Says:

    Thanks, and absolutely.

  21. yj Says:

    john – if you bought computer and ipod through credit card, you might be able to get them to reimburse you. definitely change relevant financial access info just to double make sure. best luck

  22. YaoMingMania Says:

    Thanks. Yup, changed access to accounts. I checked credit card benefits,
    and reimbursement for stolen goods isn't covered, which makes sense since
    most expensive items are purchased with credit cards. — John

  23. none Says:

    John, I'm sorry to hear about your stuff getting taken. If there's anything really secret on the macbook disk, I don't think the password protection will stop anyone knowledgeable and determined to get at the data. But most likely it was just some idiot wanting to peddle the hardware. So think of it as an opportunity to get an upgrade that you wanted anyway.

    For various reason I don't use Apple stuff myself, but several of my co-workers really like Apple's Time Machine backup system. You should get it once you have a new computer. It makes backups completely automatic. You just plug it into a wall socket at home, and configure it, and leave it there. And (if I understand it right) anytime you turn on your computer at home (i.e. within wifi range of the Time Machine) all your stuff gets mirrored to the Time Machine's hard drive without your having to do anything. I really want to set up something like that for my Linux systems.

    Remember there are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost a hard drive full of important un-backed-up data, and those who will. It takes a few experiences like that to drive in the importance of backing up.

  24. YaoMingMania Says:

    Thanks for the words. I had just bought my Mac Book because I was getting
    rid of an old Dell, so I had already “upgraded.” I never let this thing out
    of my site, and in this case, it was in my peripheral vision for just a few
    seconds. The odds of this happening for the 15 seconds I set it down next
    to me out of the 3 1/2 hours I was going to have it in my hands or lap at
    all other times had to be a million to 1.
    As much publicity backing up data gets, there's still no promoted standard.
    So it's up to everyone to figure out on their own what works for their
    machine and budget. For example, I had Windows and Mac OS running on it
    using Parallels, so I guess it was kind of partitioned, which is unusual.
    That puts a twist into it that makes one think if all the solutions out
    there can cover that kind of setup, and when people are busy like myself
    covering all the Rocket games and having a full-time job, it makes that
    research a lesser priority.

  25. YaoMingMania Says:

    The “boom” I guess was the sound of someone slamming their hand down on it and taking it, but I didn't see anyone running away, which was odd.

    I don't know if there is much that anyone can do, other than maybe keeping an eye on eBay or Craig's List in LA for it. If you see anyone selling a titanium uni-body Mac Book (not a Mac Book Pro, or a white one), and in very good shape, but they can't tell you the applications on it, send me a link and I'll look at it. I'll also be looking at Craig's List in LA, but I could probably use some help there. Thanks.

  26. YaoFan Says:

    Dude, that sucks. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a few criminal situations like that in the past and it's no fun. Some people are ignorant to the violence and crime out there, but they just need to open up a news paper and see that we are surrounded by tons of criminals. I'd be really pissed too if that happenned to me. It was probably more than one person involved like pick pockets working in teams handing off the goods to each other in case one gets caught. Hope they find some video footage to help you at least give you an idea who took your phone and laptop. Next time try to get an encryption login set-up along with your OS login and maybe even set-up a BIOS login.

    Thanks for the whole season of coverage and maybe the Rockets will go even further next season.

  27. guest Says:

    Sorry to hear about your stuff being stolen. Here In L.A. a lot of the police are crooked and often steal things because they can get away with it.

  28. YaoMingMania Says:

    Thanks. You may have something there.

  29. David Says:

    Its been a little while since the theft. Of course there is no looking back; only pressing forward; but that's very little compensation. If you woulda seen the “guy” taking it, I wonder if you'd a jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Taken some punches. The guy coulda been desperate and poked you with something sharp. It is very hard to believe nobody saw anything; more likely they didn't want to get involved. Probably didn't run off, just acted like one of the dolts that saw “nuthin'”. Coulda had it tucked under his 'hoodie' and just not moving. I'm sure you've played all the scenarios in your mind. Try not to let it control you, or it'll own you. Just not worth it. You're too good a guy. –Bro.

  30. David Says:

    Its been a little while since the theft. Of course there is no looking back; only pressing forward; but that's very little compensation. If you woulda seen the “guy” taking it, I wonder if you'd a jumped on him and wrestled him to the ground. Taken some punches. The guy coulda been desperate and poked you with something sharp. It is very hard to believe nobody saw anything; more likely they didn't want to get involved. Probably didn't run off, just acted like one of the dolts that saw “nuthin'”. Coulda had it tucked under his 'hoodie' and just not moving. I'm sure you've played all the scenarios in your mind. Try not to let it control you, or it'll own you. Just not worth it. You're too good a guy. –Bro.

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