There’s nothing like witnessing an NBA game in person. When you’re in the stands you start to understand the nuances behind the game, as well as how amazing each athlete on the court really is. If you’ve never been to a game, do yourself a favor and grab a couple of tickets to your local team. If you’re planning on going for the first time this season, let us give you a few tips on what to expect.

How Early Should I Arrive?

The popularity of the NBA has skyrocketed in recent years, especially with the excitement that big-market teams like the Golden State Warriors bring. With that increase in popularity comes an increase in ticket sales for live games. Chances are, if you’re going to an early, regular-season game for a team that’s performing well, you’ll want to get to the game about an hour early. This hour gives you ample time to park your car, stand in line for security/entry, and get yourself a drink or food.

Once you’re in with time to spare, you can check out team warmups and shoot-around, which is always a fun pre-game thing to see. Whether you’re a student of the game of basketball or just interested in seeing the sport live for the first time, it’s great to take in every aspect, including the pre-game warmups.

Where Do I Park?

Depending on the stadium you’re heading to, you’ll have multiple parking options. The closer the better especially if you’re running a bit late to the game. However, it’s best to check your team’s website to see the best options for parking, as locals will often charge outrageous prices for off-site lots.

Ideally, you’ll have a reliable public transportation option that’s cheaper and less of a hassle than driving to the arena. If you can, take a rail line or ride-sharing service. That way, you and your friends can enjoy everything the NBA experience has to offer without worrying about remembering where you parked or who’s going to drive home.

Concessions?

If you’ve been to any live event at a stadium or arena, you know how concessions are. They’re certainly not cheap but, hey, this is a special occasion so have a good time. For a truly authentic experience, check out what the stadium’s signature food or drink item is and then get that. While expensive, it’s worth it as it’s all part of your first NBA game experience.

How Long is the Game?

NBA games consist of four 12-minute quarters as well as a 15 to 18-minute halftime period. As these games are either locally or nationally televised, there are two mandatory timeouts – essentially for commercials – each quarter and teams are allowed a total of seven 75-second timeouts each game. All this adds up to around a two-hour-and-15-minute experience.

Other Tips

(From an Experienced NBA Game Attendee)

Leave Your Phone in Your Pocket or Purse
Yes, we live in a technology-filled world where social media reins king. But you likely spent good money on your game tickets and it’s your first time going. Use this opportunity to disconnect from your phone, your email, and your Twitter and enjoy watching a beautiful game in person. If you must document the game on Instagram, take care of your selfies and posts during the pre-game warmups. You’ll likely get some cooler pics with your friends then, anyway.

Pre-Game before the Pre-Game
I know I said to take in the full experience by checking out the special food and drinks that your arena offers and I meant that. However, if you’re planning for a big night out with your friends – complete with lots of food and drinks – maybe start the evening at a nearby restaurant or bar. By night’s end, your bank account will look better than if you did all your consumption at the game venue.

Support the Halftime Talent
To some with NBA game experience, this will be the most unpopular tip I give you. Many times, people use halftime as an excuse to hit the restrooms, grab more food and drinks, and avoid watching the halftime show. However, many of these halftime performances employ people with interesting talents – for example: a unicycle-riding acrobat with a penchant for balancing bowls on her head – who are trying to make a living just like the players in NBA jerseys. By all means, use the intermission to resupply or relieve yourself, but take a couple minutes to support and appreciate the halftime talent. They’ll certainly appreciate you for doing so.

Looking to attend your first NBA game or your 100th? Click here to browse NBA tickets on SeatGeek. Let’s go!

(Image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)