Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NBL x NBA Wishlist for Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Phoenix

The inaugural #NBLxNBA tour:
Salt Lake City > Oklahoma City > Phoenix (Oct1 - Oct17)
Before I even have a chance to process my recent Summer hoops tour I'm embarking on yet another adventure. A Western Conference trip to witness the NBLxNBA preseason games. I recently quit my hospitality job which allows me free time. The fact the games were conveniently spaced apart and hosted in cities I'd yet to visit was too compelling an invitation to refuse. It'll be an honor to witness this historic occasion for Australian basketball. There's an ANZAC connection with these NBA teams, adding extra excitement for the matchup. Utah have two Aussies as prominent ball handlers in Dante Exum and Joe Ingles. Whilst OKC have Kiwi Steven Adams as part of their newly formed Big3. The arrival of superstar Paul George energising the fan base as he links with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.

This is my first time buying a multi-city ticket, I wasn't even aware of them. I shared car rental costs on my first NBA roadtrip and used the Megabus for the majority of my travel. On my Summer hoops tour, I bought two separate return flights which unwittingly worked out cheaper.
This set of neighboring teams is the farthest spread so there aren't great overland options. Whilst my flights transit through Denver, I'll be skipping the Nuggets to keep with the NBL theme. This'll give me ample time to absorb what the host cities have to offer outside of the games.

Aussie themed trips:
#30HGaustralasia FIBA Oceania '15
#30HGsouthwest Texas Triangle '16
This will be my third Aussie themed roadtrip. Having followed the Men's national team for FIBA Oceania '15, as the Boomers battled the Tall Blacks in Melbourne and Wellington. I also did a month in Texas watching every team with Aussies on their roster to start the 2016 NBA season. I've been quite the lucky charm, with home teams winning 9 straight when I've been in attendance. Whilst the odds are firmly against them, my heart's with the Australian visitors as they challenge the world's finest.

Greetings from Salt Lake City, Utah
SALT LAKE CITY
Comedy
- Norm Macdonald Special Event (Oct 5-7 at Wiseguys Comedy Club)
Wrestling
- Ultra Championship Wrestling Zero (Nov 4 at The Complex)
Other
- Strung Out (Oct 3 at The Grand, Complex)
Events
- Now Playing Utah
- Salt Lake City Weekly

Utah Jazz:
Vivint Smart Home Arena
301 S Temple,
Salt Lake City,  Utah 84101

Sydney Kings at Jazz (Monday Oct 2, 7pm)
Maccabi Haifa at Jazz (Wednesday Oct 4, 7pm)

Greetings from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY
Comedy
- The Loony Bin
Combat
- Oklamania II (Oct 7 at Hardy Murphy Coliseum, Ardmore)
SCS MMA #33: Clark VS Lopez (Nov 11 at Sugar Creek Casino)
Events
- VisitOKC
- Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill
Other
- Kicklahoma Kiosk at Sooner Mall and Quail Springs Mall
- Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse
- Bleu Garten Food Truck Park
- Empire Slice Pizza
- Sid's Diner and Pop's on Route66
-
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Chesapeake Arena
100 W Reno Ave,
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

Melbourne UTD at Thunder (Sunday Oct 8, 2pm)

Greetings from Phoenix, Arizona
PHOENIX
Comedy
- This Week Sucks Tonight (Oct12 at Crescent Ballroom)
- Uhh Yeah Dude Live podcast (Oct14 at Crescent Ballroom)
- All Things Comedy Festival (Oct 26-29 at Stand Up Live)
Wrestling
- Arizona Wrestling Federation (Sep 30 + Nov 11,12)
Other
- Visit Phoenix Calendar and Concerts
- DTPHX Downtown Phoenix Events
- Lost Lakes Festival (Oct20-22)
- The Shins at (Oct3 at Comerica Theatre)
- Dinosaur Jr (Oct17 at The Van Buren)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers (Oct18 at Gila River Arena)
- Majerle's Sports Grill

Phoenix Suns:
Talking Stick Resort Arena
201 E Jefferson St,
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

- Brisbane Bullets at Suns (Friday Oct 13)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Basketball Never Stops 2017 (Seattle and LA): NBA Roadtrip wishlist

Since the inception of the 30HomeGames project in 2011, I've embarked on biennial trips to watch FIBA tournaments around the globe. It began with EuroBasket '11 in Lithuania followed by FIBA Americas in 2013 (Caracas, Venezuela). Continuing on to FIBA Oceania (Melbourne, AUS + Wellington, NZ) and FIBA Asia (Changsha, China) for 2015. I cleared my August schedule this year for AfroBasket, which would've completed the set.

@30HomeGames taking summer seriously:
Los Angeles & Seattle (Aug 18 - Sep 1)
Originally slated for Congo-Brazzaville, the tournament was handed over to replacement hosts Angola. Due to VISA hurdles and uncertainty about competition dates in Angola, I organized alternative plans. With a premium on summer basketball options and hubs of culture, I've decided on a return American visit to Seattle and Los Angeles. What I've affectionately dubbed the Jamal Crawford AKA The Steve Ballmer tour. I'll be checking out the inaugural Big3 tourney at Key Arena and the recently rebranded Crawsover League. Both in their Playoff stages. I'll also be watching the Drew League in South Central LA. Fingers crossed, I can catch some Pistol Shrimps shenanigans despite them being on their summer hiatus.

☔☀️ Basketball Never Stops!
Both cities have plenty of cultural spots that take my fancy, particularly LA which I anticipate I'll visit multiple times on this 30HomeGames mission. It's the home for a vibrant comedy and theatre scene. I look forward to visiting spots like Jensen Karp's Gallery 1988 and one day catch a Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show. I'll be in California for the much anticipated McGregor VS Mayweather showdown, it'll be a treat watching the fight among American fight fans.

Greetings from Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES
Basketball
- Drew League (Weekends at King/Drew Magnet High School)
- The Pistol Shrimps (Tuesdays around LA)
- LA Sparks (Aug 22, 27 at Staples Center)
Wrestling
Lucha VaVOOM (Aug 3 at Mayan Theatre)
Championship Wrestling from Hollywood (June 25 at Oceanview Pavilion)
- Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (June 16)
Comedy
- UCB (FranklinSunset)
- Comedy Store
- NerdMelt LA 
- Largo at the Coronet
- Anthony Jeselnik and Enemies (Aug 30, 9pm at Largo)
- Set List: Stand-Up Without A Net (Aug 26, 8pm at NerdMelt Showroom)

Other
- Gallery 1988 (7308 Melrose Ave)
- Museum of Jurassic Technology (9341 Venice Blvd)
- Levitated Mass at LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd)
- And Still Shop (114 South La Brea Ave)
- New Beverly Cinema (7165 Beverly Blvd)
6 places to see magic in Los Angeles (TimeOut)


SEATTLE
Basketball
- Seattle Basketball Pro-Am (Aug 14, 19-21, 27-28 at Royal Brougham Pavilion)
- BIG3 3-on-3 (Aug 20 at Key Arena)
- Seattle Storm (Au 18, 27 at Key Arena)
- The Museum of Jurassic Technology (9341 Venice Blvd)

Comedy
- Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater (Comedy Nest and other weekly shows)
- The Stranger (Comedy things to do)
- Comedy Underground
- Laughs Comedy Club

Wrestling
- Defy Wrestling

Other
- Paramount Theatre (911 Pine St)
- Seattle Pinball Museum (508 Maynard Ave)
- Atlas Obscura for Seattle

MISCELLANEOUS
- Summerslam (Aug 20 in Brooklyn)
- Mayweather VS McGregor at T-Mobile Arena (Aug 26 in Las Vegas)
- Australian NBA Tourism: NBA Summer Leagues and other Pro-am Summer events

Sunday, May 7, 2017

My Memphis Wrestling experience at Game6 Grizzlies and the RSWF [Real South Wrestling Federation]

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

Whenever I travel, I search for my 3 loves of Basketball, Wrestling and Comedy. I've found them with varying success around the world but have had an easier time on my #30HomeGames mission as they typify Americana.

My ongoing collection of Wrestling Grizzlies graphics 
Part of the reason why the Memphis Grizzlies are my favorite team is their reverence of Pro-Wrestling. America's Mid-South has a great wrestling tradition and the Grizzlies honor that with themed Wrestling nights. Their mascot 'Grizz' incorporates wrasslin into his shtick with the use of ladders and Championship belts. Local Wrestling icon, Jerry "The King" Lawler periodically appears at games to inject excitement into the crowd.
During Game 6 of the Grizzlies game, former WCW superstar Buff Bagwell was curiously in the front row. Interviewed during a timeout, he revealed that he was in attendance to support the San Antonio Spurs. Perplexed at first, I immediately marked out as it signalled that Memphis icon Jerry Lawler was just around the corner to challenge him. They worked a program over the course of the game. Buff Bagwell with the upper hand at first, parading around the hallways and arena stage over several play stoppages until he got his comeuppance. Lawler setting up Grizz the Mascot as he delivered a top-of-the-ladder splash onto Bagwell's surrogate who was splayed on a table. The experience was bittersweet as the Grizzlies couldn't match that script, coming up short against the Spurs. The fact Memphians entertain such absurd theatre makes them my kind of people.

Real South Wrestling Federation: Memphis' only weekly Pro-Wrestling show!
I was looking forward to experiencing wrestling in one of its traditional home's of Memphis. RSWF (Real South Wrestling Federation) is the biggest of the remaining federations in the Blues City. They host weekly Saturday Night Main Events which I was excited to catch while I was over there. My last night stateside would be at RSWF. Despite competing with WWE NXT in town for that evening, the performers and loyal crowd put on a spectacular go home show. Had the Grizzlies staved off elimination and forced a Game 7, I would've been torn but there's no way I was going to miss this.

One half of Tag Team 'Full Deck' taunting the RSWF faithful
RSWF founder, Soultaker plucked me from the crowd before the show to introduce himself. He'd been expecting me as I'd expressed that I was coming from Australia to watch Memphis Wrestling. He gifted me with a goodie bag that included his patented mask previously cracked by Jerry Lawler himself. It was a humbling display of southern hospitality and grassroots outreach, evident with the sense of community and camaraderie in the arena. The Wrestling scene at its finest.
Stash of Wrestling Goodies from Memphis:
'Memphis Heat' vinyl from the Flashback store and
a gift bag of memorabilia from Soultaker.
The show was a blast, an excited crowd of adults and children really making their presence felt. From the constant taunting to the raucous lumberjack match where paying attendees were encouraged to "interact" with the combatants as they spilled outside the ring. The audience of lumberjacks each given leather straps so the performers felt the love. The night didn't end there. After the show, Soultaker invited me backstage to meet the Wrestlers. Several photos were taken with skinny ol' me posing between the Champions and their belts.

A post shared by Loz In Transit (@30homegames) on

Of the NBA cities visited, I've found Memphis' public transport the least sufficient which is no mean feat. You're effectively obligated to use Uber to travel affordably. I'd Ubered to the show but didn't have Wi-Fi at the venue to hail a ride home. I ended up getting a lift with some wrestlers back to my hostel, riding with the Tag Team of 'Pure Power' who Main-Evented the evening. I would find out that V-man's kids who shared the backseat with me were students at Treadwell, Penny Hardaway's High School. I'd visited the Memphis Tigers' College campus the day previous and would've explored Treadwell had I discovered the connection earlier.

The Game 6 and RSWF Wrestling Nights were indicative of the good fortune and welcome I had in Memphis and Atlanta. I would cross paths with WWE star Tye Dillinger on my transit home, a fitting end as my road trip South was a "Perfect 10".

Find RSWF (Real South Wrestling Federation) on Facebook and YouTube here

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Find my other posts on Wrestling and Travel here:
- 30HG NBA Destinations: WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling
- Coolspotting: Nerding out in England - Comics, CosPlay, Video Games and Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts in South America
- Memento Spotlight: UFC and WWE autographs in England
Memphis Grizzlies meets "Memphis Wrestling"

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The South 2017: NBA Roadtrip wishlist

@30HomeGames goes South:
Memphis & Atlanta (April 23 21 - May 1)
I'm heading to the South for my first taste of Playoff basketball, hoping to catch two teams with sentimental connections.

Good news: I'm flying in to Memphis for the 2017 NBA postseason.
Bad news: I might not get to see my team play.

It was always going to be a Riverboat gamble. Threading the needle with work leave, I was securing travel plans before the Playoff schedule was released. Using last year's programme and comparable seedings as a rough guide, I took a chance. It turns out a previous season's calendar has no bearing on future schedules. Lesson learnt.
Memphis starts their series rematch with San Antonio on the opening day of the Postseason. Unlike last year, the first round games this season have a tighter turnaround. Arriving Stateside on the 9th day of the Playoffs, I narrowly miss the two guaranteed games at FedExForum. I'm left to pray that the series grits to a 6th game where it returns to Memphis. That would be a dream.
Mercifully I'm able to catch Game 4 in Atlanta versus the Wizards. My initiation into Playoff basketball.

This trip came about quite suddenly. A flash of inspiration had me scrambling for work leave and securing flights before the schedules had even been released. 30HomeGames will be at Game 4 in Atlanta and Memphis.

Believe Memphis
The Grizz are my team and Marc Gasol is my favourite player. There's uncertainty about how much longer the Core 4 of the Memphis will remain intact and the retirement of the ageless Vince Carter looms. 1st year Assistant Coach, Nick Van Exel is one of my all-time faves too. Having welcoming colleagues within the Grizzlies organization in 'The Basketball Physio's Dean & Dave gave me the impetus to make my Grindhouse pilgrimage sooner rather than later. I hope to connect with the Melbourne lads during my time in the Blues City.

True to Atlanta
Inspired by Outkast and Hawks basketball, my current rec ball team are the 'ATLiens'. We emerged as Champs in our maiden season and as an added surprise got major love from some of the ATL's biggest boosters. NBA Hang Time's Lang Whitaker and Sekou Smith are our 6th men from across the pond, complete with team jerseys. I'm not sure if either sportswriter will be returning home to cover Atlanta's games but it would be a treat to run into our ATLiens teammates.

Atlanta and Memphis rank 4 and 5 respectively on Jalen Rose's "Black Guy City" power rankings. Coupled with one of America's finest cities in Nashville, the trip is fixin' to be a blast. Truth be told, I'd also love to meet Harry the Hawk and Grizz, my two favorite mascots. Harry has the League's best Social Media game, whilst Grizz reps Memphis Wrestling.

My grand plan for the year had been Congo-Brazzaville for AfroBasket 2017. This completes my set, visiting each Continent for FIBA competition. I'd allocated most of my work leave and bankroll for that adventure in August. I had a feeling my 30HomeGames mission would never feel whole if I never watched my Grit-'N'-Grind Grizzlies in person thus my impromptu jaunt. It's a brief trip but I have my fingers crossed the Grizzlies will come through.

Greetings from Memphis, Tennessee
MEMPHIS
Wrestling
Millington Mayhem 4 "United We Stand" (Apr 29 at N-82 gymnasium)
Real South Wrestling Federation (Apr 29 at 3715 South Perkins suite 21)

Other
Jerry Lawler's BBQ
_ King Jerry Lawler's Hall of Fame Bar & Grille
_ Grizzlies-branded court at 'Howze Park', Binghamton
_ Riverboat Gambling
Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken
- Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Western Conference

Memphis Grizzlies:
FedEx Forum
191 Beale Street Memphis,
Tennessee 38103

Game 3: Thursday Apr 20, 9:30pm
Game 4: Saturday Apr 22, 8pm
Game 6*: Thursday Apr 27 TBD

Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee
NASHVILLE
Wrestling
Freedom Pro Wrestling

Comedy
Zanies (Gary Gulman, Apr 27-29)
Third Roast Comedy Club

Other
_ 'Master of None' Hits and Misses

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia
ATLANTA
Comedy
Relapse Theatre (Myq Kaplan, Apr 27)
Laughing Skull Lounge
Highwire Comedy Co.

Other
_ Hawks-branded court at 'Welcome All Park', College Park
- Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks:
Philips Arena
1 Philips Drive,
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Game 3: Saturday Apr 22, 5:30pm
Game 4: Monday Apr 24, 8pm
Game 6*: Friday Apr 28 TBD

Related posts:
- Jalen Rose's City Power Rankings aka Black Guy City Power Rankings
- 30 Home Games mission: Southwest Division map
- All posts on the Memphis Grizzlies

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

LozinTransit trip to Texas, 2016: Spurs/Rockets/Mavs. Comedy, Wrestling and the US Election

<< crossposted on the 'Loz in Translation' blog

My first 30HomeGames road trip was a short getaway with friends, an east coast jaunt at the start of 2015. I've just completed my second NBA journey, a month solo backpacking around Texas. On my first trip we rented a car and stayed in swanky accommodation. My recent outing was budget travel in the fashion I'm accustomed to, catching public transport and staying in hostels. It was quickly evident how impractical and atypical this was. Backpacker infrastructure in America isn't well developed, particularly outside the main metropolises. American road trips customarily involve rental cars and motels, a function of how ingrained car culture is in the States.

#30HGsouthwest Texas Triangle
Oct 27 - Nov 23, 2016
My maiden 2015 visit was a more traditional American road trip. Whilst saving on comfort costs as part of a collective, I conversely found it more touristic. I wasn't able to indulge in as many of my passions and go down weird rabbitholes having to conform to the whims of the group. This Texas trip was more like my previous backpacking adventures. Going solo opened me up to more opportunities and connections. I sought out comedy and wrestling, hung with locals at their spots and got to explore Universities and sit in on a megachurch. The clash of styles I experienced on my first two trips gives me perspective for future excursions and how to best balance the pros and cons.


Timing was crucial on this trip as I had a target of seeing all 8 Aussies in the NBA. I had a set itinerary of games to make which posed some restrictions. The 'ROH' wrestling show in Arlington were the only advanced tickets I purchased however so I wasn't beholden financially. Thankfully my calendar dovetailed nicely with several events. Notably Houston's 'Come and Take it' Comedy festival and 'Unelectable You' in Dallas. The latter a treat, realising the regional advertisements I'd heard on podcasts for months were suddenly applicable being in town.

I love these games
Playing board games was a new pastime I'd picked up last year and it translated well on the road. On my first night stateside I attended a games meetup and made new running mates which opened the door to many local experiences. I attended several parties for halloween, experienced VR at a lavish house and finally participated in a Hash Run after being made aware of it years ago. I'd often tell people that basketball was great because while "you couldn't invite yourself over to dinner, you can with sports". The board game scene is similarly welcoming.

Whilst I value organic experiences, part of the 30HomeGames project is connecting with fellow hoopsheads and seeking unique fan experiences through social media. My first contact with the NBA was at Madison Square garden, the New York Knicks kindly hosting my friends and I to pre-game access. Whilst difficult to top, I was kindly welcomed by Rockets die-hard @00_rocketgirl and the 'Red Rowdies' cheer section to fire up the team. Particularly memorable as they're enjoying renewed success and celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a franchise. Olajuwon and the Rockets were my first love when I began watching the NBA as a kid.

Part of the reason I traveled during that time was to witness the outcome of a historic election. It gave the period a special sense of import. Austin, the only non-NBA destination for the trip was finally ticked off my bucket list being a big fan of local filmmakers Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez.

I'm undecided for my next NBA plan but with fingers crossed am plotting a quick return for the coming playoffs. With my modest means (work leave and money) I can only manage one stateside trip per season but I'd make special exceptions to watch my Grizzlies make a finals push. Prioritised for 2017 is AfroBasket in Congo-Brazzaville, which would complete the FIBA set. Having been to EuroBasket, FIBA Americas, FIBA Oceania and FIBA Asia biennial tournaments previously.

As for the NBA home games, 6 teams down and plenty more adventure to go :)

My NBA Trips so far:
East Coast 2015 (NYK, CLE, PHI)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- LozinTransit in 2015: American Roadtrip, FIBA Oceania and Asia
- #30HomeGames in 2015: USA Roadtrip and being the Ultimate NBA fan

Texs Triangle 2016 (DAL, SAS, HOU)
- Texas Triangle 2016: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- LozinTransit in Texas, 2016: Spurs/Rockets/Mavs. Comedy, Wrestling and the US Election

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jalen Rose & David Jacoby on millennials and their relationship with Social Media

I've expressed my wariness of technology and it's ability to take us away from the moment. With the ubiquity of Smartphones its a constant battle deciding whether to log on or whip out the camera, a photographer once told me "to capture happiness, you have to be outside of it". When we derive joy from broadcasting our experiences it becomes an even trickier balancing act.
NBA alumn Jalen Rose describes the state of Society and Social Media to co-host David Jacoby using the Russell/Young viral video as a jumping off point. Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell foolishly broadcasted a private conversation of his teammate Nick Young discussing "men's business", this put him in an awkward spot with fiancée, rapper Iggy Azalea.

Jalen & Jacoby 12/28/16 - Best of Jalen and Jacoby Podcast JALEN ROSE: (7m 56s) I don't actually blame him [D'Angelo Russell]. I blame this era that has been highlighted by the Kardashians who have made a multi-billion dollar brand off of not necessarily being talented. And I don't blame them because they're the trendsetters. I blame all of the followers. People that think Social Media is gonna be your vehicle to your success. I don't care what your job or your career is. Its gonna be minuscule what Social Media pays you versus what that will pay you
DAVID JACOBY: What does that have to do with D'Angelo Russell though, he's getting paid to play basketball?
ROSE: Tupac said "I learnt to ignore what can't pay me". Now millennials are so worried about being appreciated and validated by what they post on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Periscope, Snapchat. So many different avenues, that what I'm doing in person and who I'm doing it with is not as relevant as who I want to see or acknowledge it on Social Media. A lot of young people now go to Social Media for gratification, for self-esteem, for support... 
Jalen & Jacoby on Social Media
Its a little counter-intuitive for Jalen to admonish fans for doing what they love as their own 'Jalen & Jacoby' program first began as a passion project on the Grantland network. The labour of love netted them a following which earned the duo a primetime Radio spot and TV show. Technology has democratized the media allowing everyone the chance to offer their own analysis, from commenting on messageboards to creating their own Sports Talk show.
JACOBY: Obviously we're talking about the video that somehow found it's way on the internet of Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell recording a private conversation between him and Nick Young that has then blown up his relationship with Pop Star Iggy Azalea and also allegedly blown up the Lakers locker room with the other Lakers freezing out D'Angelo Russell...
I completely disagreed with you at first when you blamed the Kardashians and Social Media however you said something that I definitely agree with you with. What's happening now today is that the conversation you're having, the experience that you're having is somehow not good enough. You need to record it and share it with every single person you know. And I think that's what this is...
Outings and Eats with @30HomeGames
Its a tightrope I've had to walk since launching IG @30HomeGames 134 weeks ago. I retired my Sydney content after 2 years but during its heyday I was on an obsessive hunt for hoops-inspired shots. On the flipside, it catalyzed me to be active socially and culturally, I just needed to redress the balance between being an observer and actor in my own life.
ROSE: For D'Angelo Russell, while it was irresponsible. While it was immature and a flagrant foul he highlights what happens daily. Young people go to Social Media for appreciation and for validation. What I'm doing at the Dinner table, what I'm doing at the house, what I'm doing at my job isn't enough for me. I don't feel as confident till I post it. I need everyone else to tell me that I look good, that I sound good. And a lot of times these are people that don't know what they're talking about. You're taking opinions from a lot of people that are not necessarily experts in the field that you're trying to get validated for. And you're spending time on Social Media and its not paying you a dime. Social Media isn't paying you millennials anything. When are you gonna wake up?
JACOBY: I love millennials and I'm gonna back millennials any chance I can because there are a lot of millennials that up there profile through their Social Media persona, there are people that get jobs because of their Social Media persona
My IG despite lukewarm numbers has netted me great friendships and experiences. It got me a memorable maiden NBA Arena experience with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. On my recent trip to Texas, I was welcomed by @00_rocketgirl  and enjoyed a Rockets game alongside their Red Rowdies cheer section. Harnessed correctly, Social Media can make the world feel smaller and connects like-minded folks together.
You follow?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Souvenir NBA merchandise and the Politics of being a Sports Homer #30HGtees

People arrive at their favorite teams through all sorts of ways, usually via their favorite player. Some find connection through their first piece of team sportswear, building affinity through NBA Fantasy, Video Games or a celebrity supporter. It could be boarding the bandwagon of the day.
Being from Australia, I didn't have a regional connection to an NBA team. No automatic link. My brothers and I were regularly given sporting gifts by family visiting from and travelling to the States. As kids, we got shirts and sweaters emblazoned with Colleges like Duke and Georgetown plus an assortment of teams from the 4 Major Sports.

I still recall the first moment I noticed the depth of meaning in repping a team. I was a teenager traveling with family to Disney World. As we queued for a ride, I witnessed two families bonding over their native Denver, a passer-by flagged for his 'Broncos' sweater. It only dawned on me then that Team Colors signified more than a love for the game, it reflected identity. Not only what one valued but importantly where they were from. Who they saw themselves as.


For Americans this may seem intrinsic but for a distant fan of the game it was something I grew to understand. It wasn't just about liking a logo, color scheme or having a favorite player. Fans of "The World Game" [soccer] may be able to relate, being wedded to a team through no initial connection but later forged through years of sentiment and support. What might have begun as a fashion choice becoming a defining characteristic.

ESPN staff writers Zach Lowe and Kevin Arnovitz light-heartedly discuss the politics of wearing team branded clothing
'The Lowe Post': Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN (11/18/16)
KEVIN ARNOVITZ: (40m) I never feel comfortable wearing the Milwaukee Bucks shirt I have even though I like it a lot...
ZACH LOWE: Loosen up, loosen up
ARNOVITZ: Can I loosen up? The threshold I make is if its a real throwbacky thing where it kinda ventures into design more than team loyalty. I have this old San Diego Clippers thing that's kinda good looking, like that I'll wear sometimes. Cuz to me it doesn't have the current city in it. I actually have a Sonics sweatshirt that I wear to the pool and that I'm allowed to wear obviously and its not expression of loyalty to the Thunder or anything. It's just a great Sonics sweatshirt I've had since college
LOWE: But I also think it can give you a fun human interaction with strangers so I'll give you an example
ARNOVITZ: I don't want that. I don't want to interact with strangers. It's terrifying.
LOWE: I forgot how misanthropic you are... I have a Milwaukee Bucks shirt and on the back it says #34 Greek Freak and it has like Greek Style lettering kind of. They look like the lettering of every Greek Restaurant you go to...
Giannis Antetokounmpo "Greek Freak" promo shirt
I share Zach's sentiment about the value of bonding through Sports. It was a large driver for embarking on this 30 Home Games mission, an avenue to connect with Cities and locals to enrich my travels. Rather than team loyalty, I wear my shirts as a bridge to connect with people and express my passion
ZACH LOWE: And I'm sitting in this lounge in my apartment complex where you like work and stuff. And this kid, probably 11 years old comes up to me. Sees this shirt and said "Where'd you get that shirt?". I was in Milwaukee so I got this shirt. And he said "I'm Greek and he's my favorite player now and we got League Pass at my house and we watch the Bucks every night. I'd really love to get that shirt". You know what kid, I'll give you this shirt. So I go home, wash it and give the kid the shirt. I'd worn it once, I'd just gotten back from Milwaukee.
Now he and I are buddies. I see him around the neighborhood all the time. He's always talking NBA with me and he wears the shirt. It makes me very happy. I feel like a good person

KEVIN ARNOVITZ: You know what? You've sold me. In a moment in history where Globalism and everybody is turning inwards. Where Globalism is a bad word, I'm going to now wear this stuff to forge relationships and moments with people who are unlike me... 
My Brothers and I had our teams when we began following the NBA in the 90's. We don't support the same teams we began with but I'm sure they have fond memories cheering the "Boom Baby" Pacers and the Stockton & Malone era. I remain nostalgic for the "Clutch City" Rockets, ghosts of our youth. We didn't have access to merchandise in those days, so our clothing never matched our fandom. We were limited in what we could represent prior to the internet and the International expansion of the NBA. Not to mention we were kids with little pocket money.
30HG collection of Souvenir Basketball Shirts
At my advanced age, I only update my wardrobe when I'm on the road. Through my travels I've collected over a dozen Basketball Souvenir shirts, commemorating my time spent in places from China to Latvia. I tend to be a "Homer" for places I've visited, celebrating the tragedy and triumph of my favorite destinations when I see them compete in International Competition. Heartily cheering for incoming internationals like Kristaps and Domantas as they enter the NBA.
Zach Lowe echoes this sentiment of supporting various teams as a larger expression of love for the game.
Sports Homer
ZACH LOWE: (38m 18s) I have clothes now from half the league's teams so if I'm out and I have a Nets hat on and a Timberwolves thing on, I feel like I'm Homer Simpson holding the NBA pennant. Just "Fan of basketball". I think that's OK.
I'm having to navigate these allegiances as I build connections and experiences with Teams and Cities on my quest to visit all 30 NBA Teams. So far I've been a lucky charm as I've provided timely wins for all 6 of the Home Games attended. Building a nice collection of Travel merch to match the passport stamps and memories made.