It’s basketball season, and what would basketball season be without NBA players thinking that their hotels were haunted? These stories make the rounds every year it seems (see also : The New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns, Bill Simmons from ESPN, etc.). And now Tim Duncan and Jeff Ayres from the San Antonio Spurs are chiming in with their ghost stories from an allegedly haunted hotel.
NBA teams spend a lot of time in hotels, which can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience for people who thrive on routine. There’s no telling when a bed might not be up to snuff, room service delivers an incorrect order (I said no tomatoes!), or an opposing fan starts heckling. Pros have learned to handle such distractions, but that doesn’t mean they’re not annoying.
Yet nothing can compare to supernatural activity. It just happens to be the case that several hotels frequented by NBA teams — most notably the Skirvin in Oklahoma City — are thought to be haunted. That includes the Claremont Resort in Berkeley, which some teams use when in town to face the Golden State Warriors in nearby Oakland. This weekend, the San Antonio Spurs were at the venue in advance of a road game. It appears that big men Tim Duncan and Jeff Ayres encountered some of the Claremont’s ghosts. From Dan McCarney for the San Antonio Express-News:
Ayres: “You get in at whatever time. I took my room key. I could hear stuff in the hallway, like people in their rooms. So I’m thinking people are watching TV or whatever. So I get to my door, and my key doesn’t work, but it sounds like there’s somebody in my room. Like I hear a little baby, not crying but making noise. I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ I keep trying my key and it doesn’t work. So I go downstairs to get a new key, and I tell them (somebody’s in the room).
“So they call the room, and nobody answers. They’re like, ‘We can get you a new key and send you up with security and make sure nobody’s there, because there shouldn’t be anybody in there.’ Then they’re like, ‘We’ll just get you a new room.’ It was the creepiest thing. I heard a couple of other guys heard babies in the hallway, kids running down the hallway. Creepy. I really heard voices and a baby in the room, and there wasn’t anybody in there. It was crazy.”
Duncan: “I heard a baby in his room. There was somebody or something in his room, yeah. I definitely heard something. It wasn’t creepy, because I assumed it was really somebody in the room, and they gave him the wrong room. But when they told me the story the next day about calling up there and no one in the room, it’s at that point you get chills. I totally agreed with him. There was a baby there, absolutely. I heard about the history of the place, and I’d rather not (stay there again).”
Duncan’s reticence to return to the Claremont might explain why many NBA teams stay at the Four Seasons in San Francisco. In fact, the stories of the Claremont are fairly well known around the Bay Area and have affected other basketball teams, as well. I’ve heard of at least one NCAA team that stayed there for a road game against Cal (whose Haas Pavilion is very close) and made several older players check the rooms to make sure everything was safe. Duncan and Ayres might sound a little ridiculous for fearing ghost activity, but they’re certainly not alone.
Then again, perhaps this was just a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once the Spurs heard of the Claremont’s reputation, perhaps they were inclined to take any creaking or bizarre noise as a mark of the supernatural. A horn can be taken for a ghost band, a wheezing can become an asthmatic murderer, etc. Those who decide they’re in a haunted hotel will look for signs that the building is haunted.
Whatever the case, the Spurs didn’t appear too concerned with ghosts when they beat the Warriors 99-90. Or perhaps they made friends with the ghosts and got them to play tricks on Golden State. Surely “The 6th Man” is not entirely fiction.
Hotels can be tricky places to try to discern paranormal activity from ambient “guest noise.” Hotel walls are notoriously thin, and the acoustics of an unfamiliar building can easily play tricks on road-weary players. And I’m guessing that’s exactly what happened here.