At halftime of Virginia's ACC tournament semifinal, Danny had an idea. He noticed all the Cavaliers staff members hovering around the team, and discerned what exactly gave them to the power to roam freely around the court: a suit with a Virginia-orange tie. One day and one trip to Walmart later, Danny was down on the floor, celebrating a conference title and shaking hands with a dejected Coach K.
It's the oldest rule of event-crashing. Look like you know what you're doing, and dress the part, and you can go pretty much anywhere.
Final cost for the fan experience of a lifetime, for the JMU sophomore and UVa fan from Richmond: somewhere below $130, and balls of steel. That's 30 bucks for upper-tier seats to Sunday's Virginia-Duke final on Stubhub, and the rest for a full outfit from Walmart.
Danny says it couldn't have been easier to get onto the court. About five minutes before tip-off, he walked down the aisle with purpose. Seeing the suit and the confidence, an usher waved him through without having to be asked.
Danny spent the game watching from different spots, including behind the Cavaliers bench. Here he is joining a UVa huddle (center, orange tie).
Here he is sitting directly behind the basket stanchion.
"At one point I had a long conversation with an usher," Danny says. "It was her first time down on the lower level, so I ended up showing her how the contraption on the gate worked."
With his family in the stands taking photos, Danny was on the right side of the cordon when ushers roped off the court as Virginia closed in on the win. He celebrated with the players as confetti blew, was handed his ACC champion hat and T-shirt by the team manager, and made sure to get into the handshake line.
When he showed up on TV shaking Mike Krzyzewski's hand, he says "about 20 people messaged me asking what the hell I did this time."
One person caught on. A UVa administrator stopped him, and asked, "Are you with us?"
"I responded, 'Yeah.'
"He said, 'No, you're not.'
"My response: 'I know. I'm with the Coliseum. But why not have a little fun?'
"He laughed and walked away."
Danny then needed to get photos of himself with the conference trophy. After grabbing the selfie at the top of this post, he asked an important-looking man standing next the trophy if he'd mind taking the phone and getting a more formal shot. Danny says he's "pretty sure" it was ACC commissioner John Swofford.
At that point, the UVa admin from earlier confronted him again. It was time for Danny to leave. But he got a hat, he got the shirt, he got the photos, and he's got the memories. All thanks to a cheap orange tie.