Sunday, March 16, 2014

Australian NBA Tourism: Planning an NBA road Trip from outside the United States

Whilst I've seen NBA talent in action, I've never actually been to a game. I watched Team USA when they were here for the Sydney Olympics and have seen NBA imports play for their respective Countries at EuroBasket (Lithuania) and FIBA Americas (Venezuela). My lone experience on American soil was in Las Vegas for the 2009 NBA Summer League. It was headlined by now-megastars Blake Griffin and Stephen Curry but laughably only scouted Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet.

I've had several friends go on Holidays in recent years and watch NBA. One mate, a die-hard Bulls fan was lucky to have booked a game in the midst of Miami Heat's historic 2013 run. He was in attendance as his beloved Bulls busted the win streak at 27.
NBA Road Trip 2014: 5 games in 15 days
Another friend recently returned from a 23-day jaunt around the States with his girlfriend. Interestingly on their last vacation away, the couple rubbed shoulders with NBA forward Shawn Marion who was holidaying in Venice. Both colleagues were instrumental in the One-Day Star Basketball Tournament. The former on the organising committee, the latter being the founder and Commissioner of the event.

I decided to quiz them about their trip to get some advice and inspiration for my '30 Home Games' mission.
Read their response and check how close to the action they got:
Houston Rockets VS Los Angeles Lakers
@ Staples Center, Los Angeles
Houston Rockets VS Golden State Warriors
@ Oracle Arena, Oakland
What was the nature of the trip? What came first, the destination or the games?
The games came first. It all depended on which cities my girlfriend was happy to see. For example she was not willing to go to Oklahoma City. We worked on which games I wanted to see in cities that we wanted to visit and work out dates that were manageable.

Did you consider other less visited cities like Milwaukee, Oklahoma etc...?
Considered. But besides watching the game itself we didn't find the city enticing enough to visit.

Did you do much planning for what to do in each City beforehand?
Planning was essential. We spent more time in San Francisco because we both have family over there. We also spent more time in New York because there are so many things to do there such as shopping, Broadway, famous restaurants etc... However we fell in love with Miami and wished we spent more than 3 nights.

What resources did you use to get tickets and accommodation?
We went to a travel agent to help us with our flights and accommodation. We used StubHub to book our game tickets. In future, I recommend booking through StubHub early for the big games as they sold out. When it comes to mediocre games try booking last minute because ticket holders want to get rid of their tickets at a really low price.

How did you move around the Country?
Flights, rented a car, taxis, trains. We didn't factor our hotel locations based on how far they were from the arenas. We factored how central our hotel was in regards to the tourist attractions.

Golden State Warriors VS Chicago Bulls
@ United Center, Chicago
Orlando Magic VS Miami Heat
@ AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami
Memphis Grizzlies VS Brooklyn Nets
@ Barclays Center, Brooklyn
Fatigue sometimes sets in especially if games aren't competitive? Did this start to happen to you? 
Not really. It was our first time watching live NBA. Was awesome. Loved the ambience of the games even though some of them were blowouts.

Which games were you looking forward to the most?
Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets. It was a nail bitter as well. Overtime!

What was the most fun game to watch, in terms of atmosphere, facilities?
Oracle Arena (Golden State), Barclays Center (Brooklyn), and the AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami).

Any tips or tricks for next time?
Not really. Just be prepared to spend money to have a good time.

Any interesting stories to share?
Some arenas offer a buffet service for some specific seating areas. I suggest checking this out because you can get hot dogs, Chilli wings, popcorn, Mexican food, cakes, bottled water, Red Bull, soft drinks etc... ALL FOR FREE!. We got lucky once. Loved it.

What a hoot! Inspiration and food for thought for my own adventure. The main appeal of the 30HomeGames mission is discovering parts of North America that are often overlooked. Despite hosting a Major Sporting team, places like Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio aren't usually visited by International travelers. I'm interested in experiencing the varied ways of life for each region, getting to know the people and of course geeking out to Basketball.
The games offer a nice pretext for travel and exploration. Can't wait.

- Australian NBA Tourism: Planning an NBA road Trip from outside the United States
- Australian NBA Tourism: NBA Summer Leagues and other Pro-am Summer events

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