Friday, August 2, 2019

Perth, Melbourne and Sydney for the FIBA World Cup Exhibition games: Team USA, Canada Basketball, Tall Blacks and the Aussie Boomers

30HomeGames is traveling Australia
for FIBA World Cup Exhibition Games.
I traveled around Australia in 2018 for NBL basketball. In a few weeks I'll be retracing my steps in Perth and Melbourne as I make return visits for the love of the game. This time for the FIBA World Cup Friendlies featuring Team USACanada Basketball, the Tall Blacks and our Aussie Boomers.

Though I watched Team USA during the Sydney Olympics in 2000, this will be the first time I'll see them in FIBA Action. I've gotten a taste of the Canadian team and the Tall Blacks with FIBA Americas and FIBA Oceania respectively. Canada are of particular interest as they have the potential to load their team with NBA stars, much like Australia. Whether they can attract them for this World Cup campaign is another matter.

A bonus of this trip will be reconnecting with a charming family of hoopsheads I first met in Adelaide at the start of my #30HGoztour. I reunited with them pre-game for the Perth leg of my national tour and joined them for dinner. I'll be cheering on the Boomers alongside them this time around.




Perth (Thu Aug15 - Sun Aug18)

Team Canada VS Aussie Boomers
FRI Aug16 (5:30pm tip-off)
Sat Aug17 (5:30pm tip-off)

RAC Arena
700 Wellington St,
Perth WA 6000

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- Embargo Lifted: One night of Australian basketball & NBA talk in Perth (Aug14)
- The Nostalgia Box, Perth Game Console Museum
- Freo.Social
- Perth Craft Beer Festival (Fri Aug16 - Sun Aug18)
- lo-fi Store
- MJ Toy Historian

COMEDY
Lazy Susan's Comedy Den
- Comedy Lounge
- The Laugh Resort (The Shoe Bar and Cafe)

WRESTLING
- New Horizon Pro-Wrestling, Guardians of Wrestling (Sat Aug24)
- Explosive Pro Wrestling, Hell or High Water (Sat Aug31)

PINBALL
- Game City
- Perth Pinball Community
- Where to Play Pinball in Perth

Melbourne (Thu Aug22 - Sun Aug25)

Team USA VS Aussie Boomers
Thu Aug22 (7:30pm tip-off)
Sat Aug24 (2pm tip-off)

Marvel Stadium - Docklands
740 Bourke St,
Docklands VIC 3008

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- Sticky Institute
- NBL1 Championship Game (Aug17)
- Poutine Festival at Ascot Loft (Aug24)

COMEDY
A Guide to Melbourne’s Comedy Rooms
- Attik [Stand-up in the Attik] (Thursdays, 8pm)
- Basement Comedy Club (Saturday 8pm)
- Catfish Comedy (Tuesdays 8pm)
- Comedy at the Coopers Inn (Fridays 8pm)
- The Comic’s Lounge (Tuesdays to Sunday)
- Crab Lab (Wednesday 8:30pm)

WRESTLING
- Magica Battle (Fri Aug9)
- MCW New Horizons (Sat Aug31)

PINBALL
- Pinball Paradise
- Bartronica
- Melbourne Pinball Finder
- Mr Pinball Australia (Flip Out 2019 in October)

Sydney
Team Canada vs Tall Blacks
Tue Aug20 (7:30pm tip-off)
Wed Aug21 (7:30pm tip-off)

Quaycentre
Olympic Blvd, Sydney
Olympic Park NSW 2127

Team USA vs Team Canada
Mon Aug26 (7:30pm tip-off)

Qudos Bank Arena
19 Edwin Flack Ave,
Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

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- Find my Game Day posts for Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats
- Follow my daily snapshots on the @30HomeGames Instagram and hashtag #30HGoztour
- Visiting the 8 NBL cities: An 8 Home Games tour of Australia for the NBL and FIBA Basketball


Friday, January 11, 2019

North Carolina All Stars 2019: Basketball roadtrip to Charlotte, Davidson, UNC and Duke

Hive mind: Purple Shirt Guy and the Cameron Crazies
As the clock ticked past midnight on New Year's Eve, I resolved that I'd embark on my 12th NBA city to tip off 2019. I'd been working on some zines to close out 2018 which put the Cameron Crazies on the brain. I don't put much forethought in my trips but as someone who revels in narrative, I can act quickly when things feel right. I went to Memphis for the 2017 playoffs sensing the core-4 of my favorite team would soon disband. I traveled for the inaugural NBLxNBA preseason knowing there was no better time to visit the northwest than being a part of Aussie basketball history.

All. Stars: Warriors Big5, Hornets Anniversary Team, Duke Freshmen
There were several reasons why North Carolina for February beckoned me:
  • Experiencing my first All Star weekend
  • The 30th Anniversary year of the Charlotte Hornets. Baron Davis, one of my all-time faves.
  • Duke being the must-watch basketball team of the year. Featuring the most electrifying prospect of this era in Zion Williamson, flanked by 2 sure-fire stars in RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish 
  • Now imagine that in the cauldron that is Cameron Indoor with the Crazies
  • Better yet. Imagine THAT against sworn enemies, the UNC Tar Heels for the 'Blue Blood rivalry'. Arguably the fiercest in all of sports.
  • Golden State at Charlotte was tantalising as the window to see the Durant-era Warriors was closing. This season's, Boogie edition ramping up the star power.
The star-studded North Carolina tour:
Charlotte + Davidson + Durham + Chapel Hill (Feb13 -Feb27)
Spectrum Center
333 E Trade St,
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202

NBA All Star Weekend Schedule
Fri Feb 15
- All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles
- Mtn Dew Ice Rising Stars ----------

Sat Feb 16
State Farm All-Star Saturday Night ---------- wishlist
- Taco Bell Skills Challenge
- Three-Point Contest
- Dunk Contest

Sun Feb 17
68th NBA All-Star Game ---------- wishlist

Charlotte Hornets NBA schedule
Fri Feb 22 - Washington
Sat Feb 23 - Brooklyn
Mon Feb 25 - Golden State ----------
Wed Feb 27 - Houston

Greensboro Coliseum Complex
1921 W Gate City Blvd,
Greensboro, North Carolina 27403

Greensboro Swarm
Thur Feb 28 - Westchester

John M. Belk Arena
200 Baker Dr,
Davidson, North Carolina 28035

Davidson Wildcats NCAA schedule
Fri Feb 15 - Saint Joseph's
Tue Feb 19 - Dayton ----------

Cameron Indoor Stadium
115 Whitford Dr,
Durham, North Carolina 27705

Duke Blue Devils NCAA schedule (Men's)
Sat Feb 16 - North Carolina State
Wed Feb 20 - North Carolina ---------- wishlist

Duke Blue Devils NCAA schedule (Women's)
Thur Feb 14 - Virginia Tech
Thur Feb 28 - Clemson

Dean E. Smith Center
300 Skipper Bowles Dr,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514

North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA schedule
Sat Feb 23 - Florida State ----------
Tue Feb 26 - Syracuse

#NBApostcards: Charlotte, North Carolina
 Wallpaper (1920 x 1080)
At this stage I haven't secured tickets for the two bucket list games as both cost upwards of $1000+.
  • UNC at Duke (Wed Feb 20)
  • NBA All-Star Game (Sun Feb 17)
The cheapest available seats for the rival showdown between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels costing more than my return flight from Sydney. I'll be on the ground come game day soaking the atmosphere, hopefully winging into an experience somehow. Plans are sudden and will be on the fly. If you have any North Carolina tips or friends in the area I may connect with, let me know.

As always I'll be documenting the journey on @30HomeGames. I'm buzzing.

Find my previous wishlists and NBA road trips here:
NBL x NBA Wishlist for Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Phoenix
- Basketball Never Stops 2017 (Seattle and LA): NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- The South 2017: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- Texas Triangle 2016: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- #30HGroadtrip on Instagram

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Joe House and Bill Simmons reseed the 2018 Playoffs in order of the best NBA Food cities

AUDIO: Bill Simmons on the Best NBA-Finals Food Cities | House of Carbs (Ep. 40)



Joe House welcomes the Podfather to reseed the Playoffs according to their culinary PER with a disclaimer that it's not flawless analytics
JOE HOUSE: There is only one man in the Ringer universe qualified to have an opinion about all 16 of the NBA teams and cities that are in this years 2018 NBA Playoffs, that is "The Podfather" himself Bill Simmons. He is coming on, we are ranking from 16 to 1 the very best food experiences among all the playoff teams in this year's NBA Playoffs
...
BILL SIMMONS: When I told you I was going to do this, I was going to give you a Top 6. I went a little further, we're going from 16 to 1 cuz I think we should sh*t on some cities too.
HOUSE: That's so rude.
SIMMONS: Let's do some sh*tting. Coming in at 16—by the way no offense to these cities, it's not the fault of the people who live there. Not every city gets to have David Chang pop up and start a culinary revolution. Not every city has a history of BBQ, Chinese food or whatever's going on. Some cities are just in America getting by and it's not their fault
...
HOUSE: I also want to add the observation that we're going to get a lot of input from people who'll claim "you guys are idiots", you're white-washing this whole thing. You're using too broad a brush in considering this. I'm gonna admit it upfront, we're making gross generalisations here about the food scenes in many of these cities. We haven't been to everyone one of these cities.
16. Cleveland (5m 58s)
BILL: We settled on Morton's [The Steakhouse]

VIDEO: Kevin Durant and Grant Hill Get Cooking on Inside Stuff

15. Oklahoma City (6m 27s)
BILL: It's basically Cleveland but with a little more Southwestern. There's a meat scene going there... KD opened a restaurant called KD's [Southern Cuisine] that ranked 4th in the best restaurants in OKC. Anytime a restaurant named after an athlete isn't in your Top5, it's probably not a great food city.
JOE: That's a good rule of thumb. If one of the Top 5 restaurants in your city has been opened by a sports figure, not a great food look for your city.
BILL: I was there in 2010, the "best restaurant" to go there after the game was called Mickey Mantle's [Steakhouse], yet another sports figure.

14. Indiana (8m 59s)
JOE: I like Indiana, we had a good time at St Elmo's [Steakhouse]
BILL: St Elmo's is a fine restaurant. The shrimp cocktail was great, it put hair on my chest but I'm always skeptical of cities that when you go people only mention one restaurant... and St Elmo's is good. It's fun, it's a giant steakhouse, the bloody mary's are great. I like the shrimp cocktail, I had a good steak.
JOE: To be honest the best meal we had together when we went to Indianapolis for the Superbowl was when we visited the [Masterpiece Lounge] bar owned and operated by Jason Whitlock. We got homestyle food, we were eating ribs and I couldn't stop.

13. Milwaukee (11m 08s)
BILL: Basically in that OKC/Cleveland range except there's sausage/bratwurst, old school things you're not supposed to eat anymore or sauerkraut, cheese curds. All stuff that's incredibly and unfathomably unhealthy... I don't know if there's the high-end restaurant scene that we're looking for

12. San Antonio (12m 03s)
BILL: Good Mexican but the thing with Mexican is that it has a ceiling... I found a fish place that I really like. The Riverwalk—throw that out, the Riverwalk is a tourist trap... there is a very good Mexican scene and it should be commended
JOE: It deserves where you're putting it because it's a one-note food town in my experience.

11. Utah (13m 48s)
BILL: I've only eaten there once and it was a great meal. The thing that stuck with me is that Steve Kerr said to me once that somewhere in Utah or Salt Lake had the best restaurant [Valter's Osteria] he's ever been to... to me this is just word of mouth. I feel like I've heard many times over the years that the food in Utah is kind of a thing

10. Minnesota (15m 12s)
BILL: I hit up David Chang on some of the cities and he's very bullish on Minneapolis...
JOE: I got a lot of input from folks in Minnesota... it fell in two categories it seemed like. A lot of gastropub focused stuff. A lot of innovations in terms of that and you know they're going to do beer correctly. I want to explore if we have time, they have Ethiopian food in Minneapolis because of a big concentration of Ethiopian folks.


9. Boston (17m 30s)
BILL: Every good major city has pockets of different food, at the North End is one of the most satisfying pockets I've ever seen in any city. It's just a finite amount of space in blocks, you know exactly how big it is. You know where all the places are. There's an Oyster House place that's the number one place there.
JOE: You could just have 6 Italian meals and cover all of the regional cuisines of Italy. You could do high-end pizza, you could do low-end pizza, you could do meat-focused, you could do pasta-focused

8. Philadelphia (20m 27s)
BILL: Cheesesteak that'd be great but after two days you're ready for other stuff...
JOE: You can get some great Asian food and there's a strong Italian tradition in Philly. There's cheesesteak and then roast pork, you know the whole sandwich game... Chris Ryan and I ate a variety of Mediterranean and Israeli focused food that was just unbelievable...
The best restaurant in Philly by reputation and accolade is a restaurant by a chef name Michael Solomonov, he and his partner Steven Cook have this restaurant, Zahav which is an Israeli restaurant... that Spanish tapas idea but with flavours of Israel... go do a Philly food tour that covers a whole lot of unexpected varieties. Unbelievable Vietnamese varieties, Thai places, the guys behind Federal Donuts which is a donut and fried chicken place. Our boy Tom Henneman pointed out this joint called Stock which is unbelievable, of that Vietnamese pho style.


7. Washington (25m 56s)
BILL: I would love to go to Momofoku one day. I'd like to go that place we went with Uncle Tony that one time, you would take me to that Italian place that you love and that one steak place you love. I'd basically get the greatest hits 'House' Tour and I'd be very happy
JOE: (House never elaborates cuz he uses the segment to defend the Wizards' honour)

6. Portland (30m 42s)
BILL: Portland has a real eclectic scene. There's a lot of microbreweries, weird restaurants. It's a cool city, I like it there. I like the different kind of options, you don't need to have a hugely expensive dinner to have an awesome time... there's a huge coffee scene.
JOE: I like how you used the word eclectic, cuz that's the perfect way to describe Portland and it's food scene. They have been at the forefront of a number of different movements. You mentioned coffee. They were sort of first on the elegant coffee vibe, not expensive but elegant. Taking the time to pay attention.
I also just wanna give Portland a pat on the back for really being at the forefront of the food truck scene, as far back as the early and mid-2000s. They were really first on farm-to-table. This way of describing local, regional ingredients and getting those ingredients in their meals.

Notable Mention: Seattle (36:29)
BILL: I love Seattle, such a fun place to go. Such a fun place to eat. They have that crazy market that's all-time, all-time great. They have an unbelievable seafood scene, great restaurants and it's shame on you NBA.
JOE: I just wanna go eat there again, it's such a good eating town. The sushi in Seattle I'm dying for it.
BILL: The tradeoff from a food standpoint, from Seattle to OKC was half as bad as the James Harden trade.

Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference edition
5. Miami (37m 54s)
BILL: I've led a very blessed life. Jalen and I did the NBA show for 2 years, Miami was in it for 3 of the 4 shows we did. We went to Prime 112 a bunch of times and got to watch Jalen eat lobster over and over again. That restaurant alone and the restaurant across the street, that [Prime Italian] pasta place. Those two alone, then you got Joe's Crab Shack... they have a little bit of everything... we're talking about all these little pockets. Now we have the Cuban pocket... I'm a 100% all the way in on the Cuban scene for food.
JOE: You and me both... very clean seafood. Very fresh, bright seafood taste. You can have very authentic Cuban street food. I've had some of the very best Italian food in my whole life in Miami.

VIDEO: Eating Congolese Food with Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors


4. Toronto (40m 25s)
BILL: A city I've never been to... I'm deferring to David Chang on this. Number one option in the East. Most options, most ways to go...
JOE: For some reason Toronto keeps showing up in our food news... Chang included a restaurant called the Fishman [Lobster] Clubhouse as his last meal on earth so he could go conquer the salt & pepper kingcrab or the lobster mountain...
What commends Toronto based on the stories me and Juliet are reading is the incredible diversity of micro cuisines. A lot of the folks displaced by the civil war in Syria and relocated in Toronto and there's a Syrian food scene. I'm into that.
BILL: From a diversity standpoint, it seems to have the most to offer maybe of all the cities we're gonna list on this podcast
JOE: There's one city that rivals it. It definitely has that international vibe that covers so much different territory—Arabic, Indian, the Syrian thing, huge Asian thing. Great sushi there and we haven't touched anything that's sort of Native Canadian. Shout-out Toronto.

3. San Francisco (43m 10s)
BILL: I think the Chinese food scene in San Francisco is a little overrated... but one of the things I like about it is all the pockets you can go outside. You have Berkeley, you have Oakland. You can get adventurous...
JOE: Highly well executed meals whatever the cuisine is chosen... one of our guests on 'House of Carbs', Kenji López just opened a German-Austrian style bier hall featuring wursts 10 minutes from the airport. That would be my first stop. I'm arriving at the airport, getting in the Uber and going straight to Wursthall.

"2 versus 1 is the Bird vs Magic... Joe House' belly vs David Chang's belly"
— Bill Simmons
2. Houston (46m 30s)
BILL: Houston does not get enough credit for a) being a great food city b) for the unbelievable BBQ scene to the point Daryl Morey was telling me for years and years they had an advantage in free agency partly because of the size of house you can get and the food... it's a sprawling, massive city and there's food everywhere
JOE: David Chang's instagram today shows a giant pot of crawfish, it looked beautifully spiced. The Houston food scene features...Viet-Cajun... Chang says it has some of the best Vietnamese food he's had anywhere... it has a season, it starts in February and goes through June

1. New Orleans (50m 17s)
BILL: The problem with New Orleans food is that it's so rich, it's so good and so heavy, so decadent that you just get in the rhythm of eating it and after Day 3 you kind of become an addict. It's almost hard to go back to normal food... and on top of everything else you know how much I love gumbo... you throw in the fish and everything and we didn't talk about the bearnaise... New Orleans is number one. It's unassailable choice
JOE: I have not eaten in Houston. I have eaten in New Orleans several times... I know I'm banned from the Acme Oyster House after the state Sal left that place... the problem is the list of classics in New Orleans is 40 deep so each time you go you feel like you have to eat at 4 to 5 places...
BILL: There's no sauce on the side BS in New Orleans... your in New Orleans, you're playing the game
JOE: You're having Po' boys 5 different ways. You're having jambalaya, you're having the gumbo... you're having oysters rockefeller, you're having bananas foster
BILL: I'd say the dessert scene in New Orleans trumps everybody else
JOE: It's the first place I had basked alaska

----------------------------------------------------------------
Find Champagning and Campaigning posts here:
- NBA Cities: Eastern Conference
- NBA Cities: Western Conference
- Follow @30HomeGames on Instagram to track the food and culture finds I've found through hoops
- Jalen's Black Guy City Power Rankings

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Aussie Basketball Tour: Notes from Cairns and Brisbane

Queensland rocks!
My tour of the NBL cities continued north to Queensland, watching games in Cairns and Brisbane respectively. It'd be the only time on this tour I remained on the road between rounds and my first visit to Australia's Top End. With Cairns being a backpacker haven and entering into the Australia Day weekend, I figured this might be a pretty festive roadtrip.

Both Queensland arenas are held in Convention Centres which gives the game day experience an unconventional sporting feel. Seats were generally wider and the venues were more modern and felt less lived-in.

We the North.
The Queensland teams were largely playing for pride as they resided in the lower half of the standings. The Cairns Taipans couldn't afford a single loss if it stood any chance of squeezing into the playoffs. The Brisbane Bullets were looking to snap their losing streak and build forward momentum for the following season. I've provided good mojo for all my NBA Home Games thus far, going 12-1 with largely underdog victories. I hoped to continue the trend with this NBL tour.

Adelaide and Illawarra beat perennial finalists Perth and New Zealand by a margin of 11 to tip off my tour. The Queensland slate of games was going to be a real test for the 30HomeGames effect. The Bullets in the midst of a 7 game losing streak were set to face a surging Adelaide 36ers, winners of their last 7. It's actually heightened my emotions for game day being fully invested in a home victory.

Fan engagement.
For the Brisbane game I was joined by a Bullets fan from the 'Australian NBL Fans' facebook page. He provided great insight into the rising talent on the team and we mingled on the arena floor after the game as fans got autographs on one end or shot around on the other. In my dozens of arena experiences, I've never seen a court accessible for fans to play on after a game. Felt surreal.

The Taipans have a great culture of supporters being a small market franchise. Taipans fans were greeted to a drumming performance by 'Drum Mugendai' to go with the usual pre-game activities. I'm hoping to return to Queensland for the Commonwealth Games beginning in April. Two former NBL cities in Townsville [Crocodiles] and the Gold Coast [Rollers] will be hosting the basketball alongside Cairns.

The 2018 Australian Tour (NBL and FIBA)
Round 15, Jan 20: CNS def. NZB (81 - 71
Round 16, Jan 27: BNE def. ILL (95 - 90) 
In the end my Queensland trip was more subdued than expected. Though it rained my entire time in Cairns, it was great finally experiencing the natural beauty of Australia's Top End. I only visited the Daintree Rainforest but one day hope to add the Great Barrier Reef. Of the NBL cities, I was most impressed by Brisbane. Definitely an underrated capital. I was in town for the Invasion Day and Australia Day activities and got to watch Weezer and the Foo Fighters at the fabled Suncorp Stadium. I'll be back Queensland, hopefully sooner rather than later.

- Follow my daily snapshots on the @30HomeGames Instagram and hashtag #30HGoztour
- Check my game day posts in Cairns and Brisbane

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

David Jacoby on "Homerism" and being a die-easy fan



Die-easy fan David Jacoby shares a sentiment straight out of my brain.
AUDIO: Goodell Strikes Back, Billboard Message In Philly, Lonzo's Top 5 and More (Feb 27, 2018)
JALEN ROSE: (9m 43s) Is there a limit on how many teams you can be die-easy for?
DAVID JACOBY: No. You know how die-easy fandom works Jalen. That's how it works. I can do whatever I want.
You know what I do when I go to games? This is for real. This is the most die-easy thing I do.
When I go to games, you know who I root for?
JALEN ROSE: The home team.
JACOBY: The home team.
*Jalen Rose laughing*

Just to be excited. I like the energy. I like the collective energy of the human beings around me. I like to get swept up in the emotion. Like I swear --the Podfather [Bill Simmons] doesn't listen to this show so he won't mind-- but when I go to Celtics/Clippers games or something. I'll root against the Celtics. I just like to high five the people around me. I like to chant "D-Fence!". You know what I mean? I like the collective energy. I like to stand up in a big possession.
I've been lucky to visit multiple basketball cities. For each of those games, I've barracked excitedly for the home team. I'm 14-1 in NBA cities watched and 5-2 for NBL games. I began with 5 straight wins on my recent tour of Australasia. Including watching the slumping (7 losses straight) Brisbane Bullets reverse their fortune against the streaking 36ers (7 game win streak). Interestingly my two blemishes came from formidable playoff-bound teams.

My homer tour of Australia.
My hometown Sydney Kings not included.
I'm a fan of the game, I'd like to preserve that as best as possible. For this Oz tour I took game day photos capturing perspectives for each NBL arena. It was fun running around taking a holistic view of the game but it was a balancing act. Focusing on the contest at hand whilst documenting the energy around me. Being invested in the success of the home team certainly heightened my engagement. It struck a nerve when my home win streak finally fell in New Zealand.
DAVID: JACOBY That's why I'll never get a press pass. Two reasons I'll never get a press pass, never get credentialed. Number one, you can't drink. So-- you know.
*Jalen hasn't stopped giggling*
Number two, you gotta act like you don't care about the game. You know what I mean? When you're in the press area. You have to sit there and be [in serious voice] "I'm a journalist. The outcome of this game doesn't affect me. I'm just here to analyse the performance of the different teams"
JALEN ROSE: That's hilarious.
I have no problem being labeled a die-easy fan. A big part of travel for me is connection, building empathy. I've certainly developed kinships with places visited, the more positive the experience the deeper the bond. It's worth noting I've never watched a game where my favored Memphis Grizzlies or hometown Sydney Kings were visitors. When allegiances are tested I can only hope for a well-fought match. You could argue that my 30 Home Games mission is rooted in being openhearted and die-easy.
First and foremost, I'm a basketball fan.

Souvenir NBA merchandise and the Politics of being a Sports Homer #30HGtees
David Jacoby on "Homerism" and being a die-easy fan

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2018 Aussie Basketball Tour: Notes from Adelaide and Wollongong

Game Day in Adelaide and Wollongong
Each week I'll be heading off to a different NBL city until the season wraps up in mid-February. I'd only ever watched NBL games at arenas in Sydney and Melbourne so I'm looking forward to experiencing the basketball community in other markets. My first two stops in Adelaide and Wollongong, both storied franchises didn't disappoint.

Support from the neighbours:
BadBoy Burger Bar in Adelaide and Illawarra Brewery in Wollongong
I shared the bus ride to Titanium Security Arena with a senior 36ers supporter decked in some classic gear. I got off one stop earlier to grab a milkshake at the BadBoy Burger Bar. I customarily check out nearby haunts to soak in the game day lead up with fans and perhaps find some memorabilia. The arena is in an industrial neighborhood and was a lonely walk via Public transport. Once you turn the corner you're greeted to a sprawling parking lot and a field teeming with festival atmosphere. Kids shooting around as fans trickle in.
Winning time!
In Wollongong the arena is by the beach with a parade of bars and restaurants filled with Hawkheads getting their fill before the game. The Illawarra Brewery attached to WIN Stadium is where I pre-gamed. I'm always impressed by the amount of local team gear people rock, all the different eras and players being repped. It's a good primer on who the fan favorites are, who to look out for on the court. At the Sixers game, the standout was Majok Deng who piled on 16 fourth quarter points. Igniting the crowd with each clutch three. The Illawarra Hawks fighting for a postseason berth sent back the visiting Breakers. None more impressive than AJ Ogilvy who had the house shaking with his blocks.

The stars interacting with fans after the game
I've been quite the lucky charm on my tours, boosting slumping and underdog home teams to unexpected victories. On my NBA visits I'm 12-1. For this NBL jaunt I've watched consecutive 11-point wins by home teams battling finals contenders. Adelaide over the Wildcats and Illawarra beating the Breakers. Competitive games and team success certainly enhances the game day experience. Both Adelaide and Illawarra showed great initiative in giving supporters intimate access to it's players post-match. A team lap of honor signing jerseys and high-fiving awaiting fans soon after the final buzzer.

Jersey finds in Adelaide and Wollongong
As expected there's also plenty of assorted NBA gear to be found. At the Illawarra game I spotted 2 'Nique' throwbacks and even a Pittsburgh Steelers tee. Gotta respect the mascot kinship. Whilst the NBA remains the standard-bearer it's heartening to see a local appreciation for the game being cultivated. One of the things I noticed traveling North America was the prevalence of locals repping their region's Sports teams. A strong sense of hometown pride which forms a big part of their identity. It's not something we really do here in Australia.

Street art finds
Game day ultimately accounts for a small part in my experience of a place. Traveling with friends on my first NBA tour, we sometimes spent our lone night somewhere watching a game. I knew moving forward I'd aim for more time in each place to explore and a get a holistic impression of the city. Besides catching the game live. I scavenger hunt for jerseys, hoops and street art. I'll hit up a nice eatery and try the local beer, usually where I can watch sports. I'll seek out the local comedy, pro-wrestling or board game scene when I can. Being on the road is exhausting so indulging in my pet hobbies helps. I like to play it by ear, though I do keep an eye on events and festivals in upcoming cities. Ultimately the memories that endure are the connections I make with people and the moments of serendipity. Basketball's a nice pretext to get me there.

The 2018 Australia Tour (NBL and FIBA)
Round 13, Jan 4: ADL def. PER 97 - 86
Round 14, Jan 13: ILL def. NZB (90 - 79)
Cairns and Brisbane are my next stops. It'll be the only leg on my tour where I won't be returning home to Sydney in between Rounds. I hear they like to party, not to mention Australia Day long weekend is worked in there too. Let's see if I can bring some luck to the Queensland teams. Looking forward to meeting the Orange Army and Brisbane fans up north.

- Follow my daily snapshots on the @30HomeGames Instagram and hashtag #30HGoztour
- Check my game day posts in Adelaide and Wollongong

Monday, January 8, 2018

Team Chemistry: Pete Holmes and Bill Simmons on the bonds you make through pick-up basketball.

Pete Holmes and friends
Pete Homes' You Made it Weird' is my favorite podcast. I've quoted it extensively for my travels as his outlook echoes many of the observations and epiphanies I've found in my own life. Whilst Pete and Bill share a history growing up in Boston, Pete is unabashedly not a sports aficionado.

AUDIO: Pete Holmes on Conspiracies, Humor, and ‘Crashing’
PETE HOLMES: (18m 28s) This is a joke I've told before but when we used to play pick-up basketball, I didn't count points. I counted friends I'd made. Which is true. Like when guys fight and stuff, I'm like "Fellas. It's f*cking pretend."
BILL SIMMONS: Right.
HOLMES: It's 11 to 6 like who f*cking cares. We just made that up. That's two, that one's worth three. It's all baloney and people getting along mattered more to me than that.
SIMMONS: That's my favorite part of basketball.
HOLMES: Is what?
SIMMONS: Is the relationships. Is the going and playing, staying on the court for three hours. Making like weird friends you'd never make normally. Never seeing those people again after the game.
This exchange resonates with me. For my European and South American trips spanning 2 years, I sought out basketball experiences and pick-up games with locals in each Country visited. Sometimes these came via Couchsurfing, more often than not connections were created organically.

December 25, 2013. Bogotá, Colombia.
A conversation struck up over a basketball tee might lead to a pickup game the next day. I reconnected with the driver who picked me up while hitching and watched a game at his nightclub days later. During a lonely holiday period in Colombia, my Christmas day spent hooping with locals punctuated my trip with indelible memories.

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It's moments like these that have me pursuing my hoop dreams of travel even as that shot clock winds down. I recently embarked on my Australia tour to tip-off 2018, having just completed my first jaunt in Adelaide. There I met a German backpacker, his "Frankfurt Basketball" tee immediately catching my attention. He remarked over beers, "I want a life I'm happy with on the inside rather than living one other people enjoy from the outside".
Echoing Pete Holmes' sentiment, sometimes we find joy in the little things. From parts of the game where you might not expect it.