Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona and Chicago, Illinois

The links between these two teams should be obvious to any longtime NBA Fan. I wouldn't be surprised if the NBA Finals between the Bulls and Suns feature big in the formative years of every Basketball fan born in the 80s. MVP Charles Barkley duelling with the GOAT Michael Jordan, not only in the Finals but in those iconic Nike commercials. After completing their first 3peat over Phoenix, Michael Jordan would retire from the NBA to pursue his Baseball dream.

Today both teams have had dream years playing above expectations. Phoenix were expected to be in the Tanking Sweepstakes without an All-Star in its young Roster and a Rookie Coach. Instead they battled to the very end narrowly missing out on a Playoff Berth in the competitive West. The team of unheralded players have made a name for themselves through the merit of their play. Former understudy Guards Goran Dragić and Eric Bledsoe have shined, Gerald Green has risen above his Highlight Film reputation and the Morris Twins have been outstanding.

Chicago without former 2011 MVP and floor leader Derrick Rose has looked formidable. Heart-achingly he was felled by another season ending injury to begin the year. Under Coach Thibodeau and the MVP play of Center Joakim Noah the Bulls continue to show incredible heart despite all their setbacks. It'll be interesting to see if the Bulls can continue their stampede in the Playoffs.
Grettings from Phoenix, Arizona (Pacific Division)
Greetings from Chicago, Illinois (Central Division)
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions. Next two teams: The Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors

Find other "Greetings from" below:
- Miami, Florida and San Antonio, Texas
- Indianapolis, Indiana and Memphis, Tennessee
- Charlotte, North Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana
- Los Angeles Lakers edition and Clippers edition
- Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C.
- Brooklyn and New York
- Dallas and Houston, Texas
- Sacramento, California and Toronto, Ontario
- Atlanta, Georgia and Salt Lake City, Utah

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Memphis Grizzlies: 'Bad News Bears' 2014

The Dallas Mavericks booked a ticket to the Playoffs by beating the Suns in a nailbiter. The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns remain dueling for the Final spot, destiny is in their hands as they face each other in their penultimate game. I've updated my 'Bad News Bears' graphic to incorporate the 2014 squad. Its the most players I've featured with 7 but I still wanted to squeeze rookie Nick Calathes in there.

Bad News Bears 2014:
James Johnson, Mike Miller, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph,
Mike Conley, Courtney Lee and Tony Allen
There have been a few roster changes over the years and some players I've omitted depending on their role in the team. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley have been the constants. Tony Allen has also been key but wasn't featured in the original graphic.
Bad News Bears 2013: Jerryd Bayless, Tayshaun Prince,
Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Tony Allen
Bad News Bears 2012: Gilbert Arenas, Rudy Gay,
Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo Mike Conley
Go Grizzlies! Phoenix have had a remarkable year and they're an affable team. Its shame that Memphis will have to oust their Cinderella run, hopefully there's room for all of us in 2015. Stay Calm and Keep Grinding.

Find previous 'Bad News Bears' posts
- Memphis Grizzles: Bad News Bears 2013
- Bad News Bears: Memphis Grizzlies to win the Chip

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Joakim Noah talks hoops and travel with Rick Fox for 'Off the Court' presented by American Express

American Express presents 'Off the Court' with Joakim Noah
JOAKIM NOAH: (2m 20s) I think traveling is very important for anybody who has a chance to do it. Its just important to explore. It doesn't have to be a 5 star Hotel, it doesn't have to be a different Country. Its important to get out of that box, get out of your comfort zone, meet people and just follow your passion.
To me that's what its all about. I'm Joakim Noah and travel is my passion, what's yours?
American Express continue their fascinating NBA series 'Off the Court' with Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah as chief ambassador. Understandably this is an inspiration for my Basketball + Travel blog. Joakim sat down with Champion Laker Rick Fox to talk hoops and travel for #AmexNBA

Chicago Bulls star Forward Joakim Noah talks about his passion for Travel
Off the Court Live Chat: Joakim Noah
RICK FOX: (11m 40s) We're talking travel. You come from an International family like myself and you like exploring new places. What do you love most about traveling?
JOAKIM NOAH: I think traveling is very underrated, its something that's really important and I just wish that more kids, more people my age were able to do it. I think that as soon as you get an opportunity, you get a little bit of money instead of buying some jewellery or things like that, traveling is way more important than something like that. It gives you the ability to compare different cultures and just see something different. I think that's really important
FOX: How is your upbringing as an International kid influenced your passion for traveling?
NOAH: My mother is from Sweden, my father is from France and West Africa. I was born in New York City so I didn't really have a choice. I come from a lot of different places. I have a lot of family from a lot of different backgrounds. I think it just makes me more sensitive to different people, to different cultures. When you come from different backgrounds like that it just makes you more openminded to things that are different
FOX: That openmindedness and sensitivity is a cross I bear too sir
American Express are also running a competition to be at the Chicago Bulls' 2014/15 season opener.
#AmexNBA Travel Challenge
When I travel, I love going to new and exciting places. Share a photo of somewhere you've been or something you've done that's unusual. If I think your journey stands out, American Express will send you to Chicago.
Unfortunately for fellow International NBA fans the competition is only open to US Residents. In the spirit of travel, I hope American Express widen their scope to include fans from around the World. As a big fan of Joakim Noah, #AmexNBA scored slam dunk choosing the French International as their spokesperson. He's definitely my spirit animal when it comes to passion, travel and "Off the Court" shenanigans.

- Find the official #AmexNBA 'Off the Court' mini site here

Saturday, April 5, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia and Salt Lake City, Utah

My last post featured star forward Rudy Gay tying both NBA Postcards together, this set follows the theme with Paul Millsap being the link. After spending his first seven years with the Jazz, Paul signed with the Hawks to start the year. He's enjoyed a breakout Season, earning a spot in the 2014 NBA All Star Game and a key piece in the battle to secure the final Playoff spot in the East.

For those partial to 'Champagning and Campaigning', Millsap's biggest upgrade might be moving from arguably the weakest party city (Salt Lake City) to an elite NBA "Black Guy City" in Atlanta.

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia (Southeast Edition)
Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah (Northwest Edition)
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions. Next two teams: The Chicago Bull and Phoenix Suns

Find other "Greetings from" below:
- Miami, Florida and San Antonio, Texas
- Indianapolis, Indiana and Memphis, Tennessee
- Charlotte, North Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana
- Los Angeles Lakers edition and Clippers edition
- Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C.
- Brooklyn and New York
- Dallas and Houston, Texas
- Sacramento, California and Toronto, Ontario

Thursday, March 27, 2014

30HG Destination Spotlight: Finding Comedy in the NBA Cities

This post is long overdue as Comedy is one my great loves and something I seek in my travels alongside Wrestling and Basketball. Its featured in practically every Division on my NBA Destinations wishlist.

Whilst I'm a big supporter of Australian comedy, I am a nerd for American comics. The truth is during my travels to Melbourne and Edinburgh for their famous Festivals or watching Comedy around Europe, the acts I witnessed were largely American. Largely as I'm limited to English speakers and the foreign Comedy scene is often developed by Western expats. This was the unfortunate case for my time in South America, though I managed to befriend Argentinian Comedians I couldn't appreciate Latin Comedy because of the language barrier. I'll have no such problems in the States. I watched comedy in the hubs of LA, NY and Chicago during my last US visit in 2009 but hope to find it in the smaller NBA cities.
Comedian Louis C.K. and Chris Rock with Knicks star J. R. Smith
Dave Chappelle with Warriors leader Stephen Curry
Many Comedians from the Alt scene to the biggest names in Standup intersect with the NBA. From Dave Chappelle dropping by the Golden State Warriors locker room to comic legends Chris Rock and Louis C.K. taking in a game at Madison Square Garden. One of the more comedic NBA Stars is LA Clipper Blake Griffin. With star turns on 'Funny or Die', an early guest on Neal Brennan and Moshe Kasher's 'The Champs' podcast and his appearance alongside teammate DeAndre Jordan for a 'Space Jam' reading at UCB theater.
UCB Theater’s 'The Live Read' show
from L to R: Ben Schwartz, Danielle Fishel. Seth Green, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin
Photo Credit: @rejectedjokes (Ben Schwartz)
There are plenty examples of NBA and Comedy crossovers but I'll leave you with my favorites:
- Nick Kroll as "Ref Jeff" and the "Young Larry Bird"
- Kumail Nanjiani on Ice Cube's lyrics for  'Today was a Good Day'
- Ben Schwartz talking Knicks on 'The Matt Fried Hour' and playing A-M-A-R'-E on 'Knicks Now'
- IFC show 'Portlandia' has featured TrailBlazer owner Paul Allen, its Cheerleaders as well as stars Lillard, Aldridge and more

VIDEO: 'Ride Along' presents Kevin Hart's NBA Wish

KEVIN HART: I wish I was little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I could throw it down like Andre Iguodala
In promotion for 'Ride Along' (2014), Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in a music video alongside NBA stars Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Iguodala and Kobe Bryant. Its an interesting assortment of players, all members of Team USA 2012 and representatives of the Nike/Jordan family.

VIDEO: Kyrie Irving and his long-time friend Pete Holmes

Comedian Pete Holmes has admitted to knowing very little about sports, that hasn't stopped him from getting personal with Rockets' star James Harden and the Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving. Take note of how knowledgeable Roy Hibbert is of the Alt Comedy scene in his chat with Pete.

I'll be compiling a running list of Pete Holmes' NBA interviews below:
  1. Fearing the Beard with James Harden
  2. Kyrie Irving and his long-time friend Pete Holmes
  3. Pete hangs with NBA All-Star Anthony Davis
  4. Pete hangs with Harrison Barnes of The Golden State Warriors
  5. Talkin' like Talls with Dikembe Mutombo
  6. Pete Meets Roy Hibbert, The Greatest Basketball Player of all Time
Read about my other Comedy adventures from around the World
Argentina observations: Do you really want to live forever young?
Coolspotting in Melbourne: "Melbournelandia" Vegan eats, Punk Rock and Comedy
- Live: Edinburgh Fringe comedy roundup 2011

30HG Destination Spotlight
Wieden + Kennedy, Nike Kitchen (Portland, Oregon)
Troublemaker Studios (Austin, Texas)
Pixar Studios (Emeryville, California)
WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling (MetLife Stadium. East Rutherford, New Jersey)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#GrindHouse Memphis Grizzlies 2014 Wallpaper

#Grindhouse Wallpaper: Memphis 2014
April 19, 2014 - Save the Playoff date.
The Memphis Grizzlies have won 8 of the last 10, a necessary showing as Teams 5 through 9 (Portland, Golden State, Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix) are separated by a measly 3 games with only a dozen to go.
Memphis 2014 will not only make the Playoffs but I trust they'll wreak havoc in the 1st Round once again and grind their way to a deep run.

- Find the 2013 GrindHouse wallpaper here

Monday, March 24, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Sacramento, California and Toronto, Ontario

I've reached passed the halfway mark of my NBA postcard collection. Thanks to anyone who has enjoyed the series so far and shared them along. The next few sets will feature teams connected by a trade, in this case Rudy Gay.

After building his name as a Marquee player in Memphis, Rudy was traded to Toronto. The Canadian team was revitalized with exciting early wins as Gay poured in a record 74 points in his first three games as a Raptor. The Raps couldn't manage a playoff berth whilst the Grizzlies (Gay's former team) made its deepest playoff push advancing to the Conference Finals.

Within the year, Toronto changed course trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento. Continuing the perception that Gay helps teams by subtraction, Toronto surged to the Top of the Division and has held firm. Sacramento meanwhile has shown it has the makings of a formidable team with rising star Isaiah Thomas and the continued polish of Double Double machine DeMarcus Cousins. Rudy Gay seems to have found a better fit in Sacramento. Finding a Playoff spot in the competitive West isn't easy but the Kings are slowly assembling a squad that can get there.

Greetings from Toronto, Ontario (Atlantic Division)
Greetings from Sacramento, California (Pacific Division)
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions. Next two teams: The Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz

Find other "Greetings from" below:
Miami, Florida and San Antonio, Texas
- Indianapolis, Indiana and Memphis, Tennessee
Charlotte, North Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana
Los Angeles Lakers edition and Clippers edition
Cleveland, Ohio and Washington D.C.
Brooklyn and New York
- Dallas and Houston, Texas