Monday, March 2, 2015

30HG Interviews: Simon Valenzuela (@dongmegatron) Aussie NBA fan, jersey collector

@dongmegatron - Simon Valenzuela, Aussie NBA fan, jersey collector
I stumbled onto Simon aka @dongmegatron's collection on Instagram and instantly geeked out. Not only did he have an impressive array of obscure NBA jerseys but better still -- was representing Australia.

I've expressed my appreciation for overlooked jerseys, having founded the #Scavenjersey campaign to encourage myself and others to snap novel basketball jerseys in the wild. Interestingly @dongmegatron found himself in my archive when I snapped his Josh Childress' Atlanta Hawks jersey at a Sydney Kings game. This was an interesting revelation days after Simon was kind enough to share his process as undoubtedly the most comprehensive collector of Australian NBA jerseys.

I unwittingly capture Simon for his Josh Childress #Scavenjersey
months before finding his @dongmegatron IG
Find my interview with Simon below and make sure you check out our entries to be ESPN's Ultimate Fan.

1) The first jersey that started the collection and the moment you decided to dedicate yourself to the cause?
I first started following BBall in 1994. My first jerseys were the ones retailing in Australia made by Starter around 1994/95. I first had Shaq and Penny black Orlando jerseys, but the first jersey I was really proud of was the Champion Blue Orlando Horace Grant jersey. Got it from Card Shaq in Parramatta and was stoked to see it in the store. It wasn't til I began part time work that I was able to start buying whatever jerseys I wanted though.

The collection really started to come about when Australian retailers began selling the Concept Sports/Steve Rolton Agencies jerseys that were licenced in Australia. This was around 2001 when they had Jordan Wizards, Kobe, Vince Raptors, KG, Iverson etc. I began buying all of those and then got into the online scene as eBay became more accessible and had much more variety and teams from Nike/Reebok / and now Adidas. Soon enough I had a jersey from each of the 30 teams, then a home/away/alternate etc.

2) What percentage of your jerseys were bought when the player was active compared to after. Could you break it down? 
In terms of the Australian NBA players, I guess a majority would have been acquired after the player was active or had changed teams. Obviously with the current crop of 7 players it's a lot easier to get the base home/away jerseys of these players. However, with the new style of Swingman it's much harder to get role players jerseys made up. Also about half of the Aussies that have played in the NBA are either retired or playing overseas, so all of them I've had to source after they were active.

a) Arena and Team store buys (current, physical)
Went to USA for my 30th and went to 6 different arenas, so bought a jersey at each one. But obviously a very small portion as I don't have access.

b) Auctions, outlets (after, physical)
Meigray for Game Worn jerseys. Bought a few different ones in the last few years. Game worn Mills and Baynes NBA Finals jerseys, Baynes Latin Nights jersey, Baynes Christmas jersey, Dave Andersen jerseys, Mills opening day Championship commemoration jersey and the recent Bogut/Delly/Bairstow Christmas jerseys. Still a small percentage.

c) Online retailers (current, online)
Over the years I've bought a decent amount from online retailers. NBA.com when it was easier in the past, FansEdge, Fanzz, etc. but prices are high and the ones they sell are generally also available on eBay so these days I don't do retail too often.

d) eBay (after, online)
Majority off eBay. Sellers are much more likely to ship to Australia. Steady supply of blank jerseys which is great for making Aussie players. Prices are much cheaper, especially for players not with that team any more (fullmoonjerseys sells cheap Swingmans) as well as plenty of sellers selling authentic jerseys much lower than the $300 retail.

VIDEO: Australia's Biggest NBA Fan presented by ESPN  
This is Simon's submission for the 'ESPN Ultimate Fan' competition. 
Find his entry here and make sure to upvote it. (Entries close March 15, 2015)

3) Where do you stand on counterfeits and the ability to customize jerseys with "Insert name" services? 
I'm against counterfeits especially the ones you see at Paddy's Markets etc that are so obvious. There's some very high quality fakes online which are much harder to spot, and they're not so bad. I think replica screen prints are absolute garbage. The Reebok/Adidas ones are so cheap looking, have huge wide shoulders which make the dimensions look square.

In terms of customising, I'm all for it. That's how most of my Aussie jerseys have been able to be made, by buying blanks or stripping other players jerseys. This has been a godsend, as NBA.com is quite a headache (shipping so overpriced/don't ship custom jerseys to AUS/limited range of customisable jerseys). This is more evident now a days when teams have all these commemorative jerseys eg. Christmas Day / Spurs Military/Warr iors Chinese New Year where they only sell the star players jerseys. In the past it wasn't so bad, as I could strip the stitching on a Swingman and get it customised but now the 2015 jerseys are heat pressed and I'm not sure they can be removed with any amount of ease.

4) Have any of the players ever reached out to you about your collection? 
A few have. Mark Bradtke sent me a DM on Twitter, and I've seen plenty of ex NBA guys at NBL arenas or Boomers events (Schenscher/Heal) or (Jawai/Patty Mills/Dave Andersen) and they've all commented on the jerseys and often told a story or two.

5) If you were to start another collection now, i.e collecting jerseys of every NBA player from Lithuania, would it be possible? How crucial is timing and getting a headstart? 
It helps but I have only really been making an effort to collect Australian players the last 5 or 6 years. I think it'll be harder now if you're going for era authenticity as the NBA logo is now on the back of the jersey etc, so current custom swingman jerseys won't be consistent with players prior to this season. But many of the jerseys I've made eg. Longley Timberwolves have had to be customised jerseys (strip name and number off Laettner) and sent to this tailor in the US who does a very good job. So it can still be done but depending how far back you want to go, it obviously gets harder. But using your example it'd be quite easy to find an old Rasheed Wallace Portland swingman and turn it into a Sabonis, a Tim Hardaway or Chris Mullin. A Warriors Hardwood Classics jersey into a Sarunas Marciulionis, so it's not impossible. Just need to know the right place to get the custom name/number sewn on.

6) Talk about the process and rewards. Describe the thrill of the chase to those non-collectors out there. Any "ones that go away"? 
There's always ones that got away. In the last year or so there was a Game-worn Anstey Bulls and a Longley Suns jerseys that went for only a couple of hundred bucks but as with any hobby there's always a thrill in collecting. You learn to recognise the rarer types of jerseys and appreciate someone else's collection. And by posting my pics on Instagram now I see how many other people out there like the same thing.


7) What is your all-time holy grail? What's your prized possession. Any preferences as far as manufacturers and eras?
I love the Patty Mills finals game worn jersey. It has a place in history and it also fits me so I can wear it in public. Also Horace Grant was the first player I began collecting so I have plenty of game worn Orlando/Lakers jerseys as well as some hard to find ones like Authentic Bulls, Authentic '94 All-Star and Authentic Sonics jerseys. But the era I probably like the most is around the '95-99 era, when champion used a lot of the tie-dye or whatever it was to ink the logos in the jersey. Ones like the pistons horse head, Hawks Mutombo style, Sonics finals, Rockets Pippen types. Brings back that nostalgic feeling of when I was younger and never had access to these jerseys.

8) Any Jersey collections you look up to or would like to mention?
The way I began getting them customised was when I bought a Sonics blank jersey off eBay and the seller was able to make it into a Horace. After that I kept in contact and found out he could do it to many jerseys, as he had access to old champion materials and had a good tailor that did a professional job. His name is Jersey Jim and I popped into his place in Fresno California when I was in the States. This dude has one of the most impressive NBA game worn jersey collections in the world. Thousands of jerseys, I could've spent all day there. He obviously has contacts in the league to allow him to get such good gear.

9) Do you have collector peers? Is there a scene, how can someone get involved in it? 
Not really into any scene as such, I'm not aware of any. My friends and I all have an abnormally large amount of jerseys, but that's about it. I've come across some nice collections on Instagram, but I'm very new to the app.

Follow Simon on Instagram - @dongmegatron
Vote on ESPN and send Simon to LA - Australia's Biggest Fan

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Part of the reason I started #30HomeGames was not only to share my love for the game but to find likeminded people who shared the same passion and interest. It's been an ethos that has served me well in my travels, bonding through sport and connecting with fellow fans even when language and being an outsider proved a barrier. This connection has been an example of that, the mutual appreciation and willingness to share tricks of the trade to a fellow fan
Realising @dongmegratron and I had already crossed paths says a lot about the Court Vision #UltimateNBAfans share.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

#30HomeGames in 2015: USA Roadtrip and being the Ultimate NBA fan

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

One of the primary reasons I created 'Loz in Transit' and its offshoot blogs was because I enjoyed having an undertaking that fostered life experiences. Since becoming a "content seeker" for these projects I feel more connected, inspired and proactive. Even though I've recently returned from a short USA trip, activity on my travel blog has been sparse as nearly all my focus has shifted to my basketball mission. In particular the @30HomeGames Instagram which I update daily and consumes most of my waking thoughts.

We embarked on the maiden #30HGroadtrip to the snowy US East Coast, cruising from New York to Cleveland by SUV. I had a Fairytale in New York as the Knicks graciously hosted @30HomeGames to pregame access at Madison Square Garden aka "The World's Most Famous Arena". We also sat Courtside behind the Player's bench in Philly and capped it off watching this Generation's greatest player, homecoming King LeBron playing in Cleveland.


At this stage, my growing obsession for Instagram has me viewing the world through a square, basketball-themed prism. The shift largely precipitated by my new life as a Smartphone user, its been 7 months now. A lot of the inspiration and insight which filled these pages came to me during quiet moments of reflection traveling Europe and South America. I didn't have a camera for the majority of my travels but on the occasions I did I realised it made me neglect writing. The Smartphone has made this worse tenfold, conversely Gramming has helped me develop a more economical way of storytelling.

There's a lot in store for '30 Home Games' in 2015 so stay tuned.
I have an interview with a diehard Australian jersey collector coming. I'm also campaigning to be the 'ESPN Ultimate Fan' so please show your support. As its an 'even' year, FIBA basketball returns. I'll be contemplating whether to continue my streak having already attended EuroBasket '11 and FIBA Americas '13. I have a choice between a mid year trip to either Asia or Africa. #AfroBasket2015 hosted by Tunisia between August 19 to 30 or FIBA Asia in Changsha, China from September 23 to October 3.

- FIBA Africa, Tunisia 2015 (August 19-30)
- FIBA Asia, Changsha 2015 (September 23 - October 3)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)

It'll be interesting negotiating the trip with 3 other people with various interests. I'll have a fellow running mate who's also a Hoops and HipHop head, a Buffet enthusiast and a foodie. Personally I enjoy exploring subcultures and supporting local scenes, from wrestling, Punk & HipHop to Comedy. It's something I seek at home and in my travels, in some cases it overlaps with my love for Basketball. We'll be working together to tick off our collective to-do lists as we explore each neighborhood.

The '30 Home Games' Inside/Outside game
We come for the Basketball, we stay for the Culture
Our local contact in New York will be particularly handy, especially for finding local parks to ball in. One of the first things he did after relocating from Sydney was to find a local Hoops league in Manhattan. I'm not a stellar player and haven't had to face tough competition in my travels. Basketball has not been widely played in many Countries I've visited, relative to National Sports like Soccer and certainly its popularity in the States. I'll need to improve my game in the months leading up to the North America trip.
- 30HG NBA Destinations: WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling
- 30HG Destination Spotlight: Finding Comedy in the NBA Cities

- NBA Cities: Eastern Conference
- 30HG mission: Atlantic Division map (Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia)
- 30HG mission: Central Division map (Chicago, Cleveland)

Below are the many places of interest in the respective NBA cities:

2015 NBA RoadTrip: New York
NEW YORK
New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, 
New York, New York 10001 
Comedy
TimeOut New York Comedy listings:
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
Comedy Cellar
Gotham Comedy Club
Carolines on Broadway
- Whiplash [UCB Theatre]
- Cake Shop

Streetwear
- Billionaire Boys Club/BBC Bee Line
- Kith
- ONLY NY
- Staple
- Supreme

Wrestling
2CW Wrestling
- Empire State Wrestling
- Family Wrestling Entertainment
- House of Hardcore
- Warriors of Wrestling

Others
- 'Book of Mormon' on Broadway
I'm New Here--Can You Show Me Around? (Jon Ronson and Maeve Higgins @Union Hall)

BROOKLYN & NEW JERSEY
Brooklyn Nets 
Barclays Center 620 Atlantic Ave, 
Brooklyn New York 11217 

Other 
- Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash

2015 NBA RoadTrip: Philadelphia
#NBAPostcards Philly Roadtrip variant
PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia 76ers
Wachovia Center 3601 S Broad St, 
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Music

Wrestling
- Combat Zone Wrestling
- Dragon Gate USA Pro-Wrestling
- Extreme Rising
- Keystone Championship Wrestling
- Women's Erotic Wrestling

2015 NBA RoadTrip: Cleveland
CLEVELAND
Cleveland Cavaliers
Quicken Loans Arena 1 Center Ct, 
Cleveland, OH 44115

Comedy
- Cleveland Improv
- Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant and Club [Hilarities]

Music
- The Grog Shop
- House of Blues

Wrestling
- Mega Championship Wrestling

Other
- The Flats

2015 NBA RoadTrip: Chicago
#NBAPostcards Chi-Town roadtrip variant
CHICAGO
Chicago Bulls 
United Center 1901 W. Madison St 
Chicago, Illinois 

Eats
- Garrett Popcorn Shops

Comedy
TimeOut Chicago Comedy listings
- iO Improv Olympic
- Chicago Laugh Factory
Second City
- Zanies Comedy Nightclub

Find my Eastern Conference to-do list here:
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference edition
- Find other Coolspotting and Subculture posts here

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

The '30 Home Games' Mission, my pursuit to visit all the NBA Cities officially tips-off in 2015. I'll be joining 3 friends on a two week Eastern Conference roadtrip. Primarily visiting a friend who's relocated to the Big Apple, we'll be passing through Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago then cap it off in Vegas. Returning home with a friend, the other half continue for a snowboarding excursion in Utah.

@30HomeGames 2015 NBA Roadtrip (January 26  - February 8)
 New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas
This preliminary trip will serve as a sampler for my 30HG mission. A chance to experience the North American travel infrastructure, budget considerations and hospitality expectations. For our accommodation and travel, we'll be AirBnB-ing and renting a car collectively. Outside of family I've never traveled overseas in a group, having backpacked Europe and South America solo. I've Couchsurfed and rideshared several times but have yet to try AirBnB. In fact none of the guys have, so we're looking forward to the experience.

#NBApostcards: Greeting from the Eastern Conference
(Updated 2015 postcards coming soon)
I'm not one to make an itinerary, as in life preferring to go with the flow when traveling. I've stumbled onto happenings, made new friends, found places to crash and scored free tickets armed with a spirit of adventure and a curious eye. I usually don't have much lead time heading into a destination as I'm directed by my whims. I found out about the existence of EuroBasket weeks before I headed into Lithuania for the Tournament. For FIBA Americas in Caracas, I mentally prepared myself having been forewarned by friends about the Country's complicated infrastructure. I was forced to scrap the playbook when faced with the realitiy on the ground.

'30 Home Games' figures to be a different experience as I've been researching and anticipating events and places well ahead of time. Whilst I've indulged my interests in Comedy, Wrestling and music in my travels, the States is the epicenter and birthplace for many of these things which sets some lofty expectations. That's not even considering the NBA!!!
- Find my NBA Roadtrip to-do list here

Eastern Conference NBA Destinations:
Atlantic (NY, BK, PHI) and Central (CLE, CHI)
'30 Home Games' has been 3+ years in the making and now it's really happening. I can't wait!

Find my Eastern Conference to-do list here:
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference edition
- Find other Coolspotting and Subculture posts here

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

30HomeGames' Collection of Souvenir Basketball Shirts from Vegas, Argentina and Lithuania

Whilst my blog updates have been protracted and sporadic, my fledgling @30HomeGames Instagram continues to develop and has begun to dominate my attention. I update the account twice daily and have enjoyed the constant hunt for basketball-inspired snapshots.

I've also begun looking through the archives, cataloguing possessions and souvenirs accumulated in life and my travels to feature on Instagram. Below are my collection of souvenir Basketball Tees annotated with when and where I got them.

Find the full set on Instagram at #30HGtees

WEAR: 'Las Vegas Summer League' by Adidas
WHERE: Las Vegas, USA (July 2009)
WEAR: 3on3 FIBA Basketball
WHERE: Kaunas, Lithuania (Sept 2011)
WEAR: Official 'Lithuania' tee for EuroBasket '11
WHERE: Kaunas, Lithuania (Sept 2011)
WEAR: Official "Ventspils Basketbola Klubs" shirt
WHERE: Ventspils, Latvia (Oct 2011)
WEAR: 'Dallas Mavericks, NBA Champions 2011' by Adidas
WHERE: Istanbul, Turkey Jan 2012
WEAR: "Angel Dunk" by Argentinian brand 'All Day'
WHERE: Mendoza, Argentina (Aug 2013)
WEAR: 'Australian Boomers' warmup by Peak
WHERE: Sydney, Australia (Aug 2014)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

City of Sydney and 'Youth Services' present 3on3 Half Court Games in Glebe

I don't recall the last time I played Streetball since returning to Sydney, it seems I've become one of the asphalt snobs pundits have described. Instead I've opted for organised full court runs in Auburn and Sydney Uni with work and school colleagues. Now that I'm playing more competition basketball I've lost interest in casual outdoor games, which is all that's available when traveling.

My local courts, the Peter Forsyth Auditorium in Glebe provides free access to its facilities on Fridays with refreshments, training and referees. An initiative to foster community amongst neighborhood youths.

Youth Worker Mereani hosting 3on3 Halfcourt games at Glebe
'City of Sydney' and Youth Services present 'City Hoops in the Park'
Free for young people 12-25 years old
3 on 3 and half court games Basketball Tournament
Fridays 3pm - 6pm
Peter Forsyth Auditorium Glebe
Come with team or make new friends. Games will be played on half courts and have free play training
Healthy Snacks and refreshments provided

Youth Services run a range of programs, events and activities. They also offer support and advocacy for young people. For more information contact your local youth worker on 9298 3120

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Everydayness": Heidegger on Death and Kevin Garnett playing a midseason Game in Charlotte

<< crossposted on 'Let's Get Real podcast' blog
An aging Kevin Garnett VS Charlotte's Cody Zeller.  
What does Champion NBA Power Forward Kevin Garnett have to do with influential thinker Martin Heidegger? Authors Daniel M. Klein and Thomas Cathcart in their humorous book on the Philosophy of death finds a way to explain Heidegger's often complicated ideas via a basketball analogy
Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates:
Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between
Ch 4. Heideggerty-Dog, Ziggity-Boom, What You Do to Me
Look at it this way: Say you're Kevin Garnett and this is Game 7 of the NBA Finals. You're going to play with way more intensity, way more energy, way more life, than in one of those dreary Thursday night midseason games in Charlotte. Heidegger called the latter "everydayness," and he put it down as the ultimate drag. So let's face it squarely, Daryl, this -- right here, right now -- is Game 7 of the Finals, and what a joy it is to be here!

For Heidegger, the worst possible news would be that our souls are immortal. That would condemn us to a never-ending string of those Thursday night games in Charlotte.
My only quibble is the use of Garnett for the example. He's arguably the most consistent and unfailingly intense player currently in the L.