Rockets are game for boat trip to Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Houston Rockets had one goal during their ride to Wednesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors:

Don’t get seasick.

A bridge closure forced the Rockets to find alternate transportation from their hotel in San Francisco to the Warriors’ arena in Oakland or risk being late. They settled on taking a passenger ferry across the San Francisco Bay.

“Trevor Ariza said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Rockets trainer Keith Jones said. “Tracy McGrady was laughing."

Teams staying in San Francisco typically need 30-45 minutes to make the trip to Oakland by charter bus, but the Bay Bridge has been closed for emergency repairs. The closure has caused major traffic issues because it connects 280,000 motorists daily across the bay. Motorists are taking alternate routes like the ferry, train and BART to get to their destinations.

Jones first learned of the Bay Bridge closure during the Rockets’ season-opening loss at Portland on Tuesday night. During halftime, he had the Rockets’ late-night charter flight rerouted to San Francisco instead of Oakland so the team could be closer to its hotel. Jones said it would have been too hard to change to an Oakland-area hotel instead because of accommodation issues.

After some Rockets personnel needed two hours by bus to get from San Francisco to the arena Wednesday morning, Jones began looking for different transportation. He believed an afternoon bus ride could take the Rockets more than three hours.

Jones said San Francisco Ferry officials guaranteed the Rockets preferred seating on two afternoon ferries that took about 35 minutes and made a stop in Alameda before getting to Oakland. The general-admission tickets cost $6.50 per person. Food, beverages and a beautiful upstairs deck view were also available during the ride.

Jones said the Rockets would take a bus back to Oakland after the game with hopes that it won’t be more than a one-hour ride late at night.

“I have never seen anything like this bridge snafu,” Jones said. “But you’d rather have a 35-minute ride than a three-hour ride. Most of the guys want to take a nap in the afternoon. It allows everyone to be able to stay in their routine.”

After the ferry ride across the bay, a bus took the Rockets on a short ride to Oracle Arena for the game. The ferries were filled with local business people as well as Warriors fans making the afternoon commute home.

"I wish we had Yao [Ming] playing, but I’m glad he is not here this time," Jones said.

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