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, namechecking Pete's BFF Chelsea Peretti in their chat.

I'll be compiling a running list of Pete Holmes' NBA interviews below:
  1. Talkin' like Talls: Pete Holmes' complete NBA playlist
  2. Fearing the Beard with James Harden
  3. Kyrie Irving and his long-time friend Pete Holmes
  4. Pete hangs with NBA All-Star Anthony Davis
  5. Pete hangs with Harrison Barnes of The Golden State Warriors
  6. Talkin' like Talls with Dikembe Mutombo
  7. 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

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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. Notable changes include the addition of Mike Miller, Courtney Lee, Nick Calathes and James Johnson
- Find the 2013 GrindHouse wallpaper here

Update: "Left Proof"
Amended after the Huge Game 2 performance from all the Memphies Lefties, especially Beno Udrih
"Left Proof" with Beno Udrih in place of the suspended Nick Calathes
Update: Epic Game 6 to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 6. May 1, 2014 edition. "Left Proof" poster incorporated

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
Sacramento, California and Toronto, Ontario
Atlanta, Georgia and Salt Lake City, Utah
- Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona
For the definite collection go to the NBA Postcards Tumblr

Friday, March 21, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Dallas and Houston, Texas

This set completes the Texas Trio, arguably the strongest cluster of teams you'll find on the NBA map. Houston was my team when I first started getting into basketball. It was nailbiting as I followed them on their Road to Glory doubling up as NBA Champions during Jordan's absence. Hakeem Olajuwon remains my All-time favorite player.
I've always had a soft spot for Dirk Nowitzki. I had mixed emotions when he was humiliated in the 1st round by my then favorite player Baron Davis and the Warriors. His redemption avenging an even Stronger Miami Heat team was inspirational. I paid tribute by forking out for a 'Championship Dallas Mavericks' tee I found in Istanbul.

The West is tightly packed and loaded this year, both teams are capable of an upset in the 1st round. Houston with the addition of Dwight Howard and the rising leadership of James Harden are threats to run the table with their high octane system.
Greetings from Dallas, Texas (Southwest Division)
Greetings from Houston, Texas (Southwest Division)
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions. Next two teams: The Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors

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
- Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona
For the definitive collection go to the NBA Postcards Tumblr

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.

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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

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Brooklyn and New York City, New York

Today was a good day for New York fans as Brooklyn topped Division leaders Toronto and New York dispatched the lowly Sixers for their 4th straight win. Both teams have mortgaged their futures to win now so unlike storied franchises Boston and Los Angeles there's no incentive to throw away the season.

Brooklyn reloaded in their 2nd year since relocating from New Jersey, adding key (but aging) pieces from the Champion Celtics. They took a gamble enlisting the freshly retired Jason Kidd to coach the veteran lineup. He weathered early criticism for their 10 win, 21 loss start but have since turned the corner in the New Year with an above .500 record.

Hoping for a playoff push after the All-Star break, New York slid to 8 losses in 9 games. Heightening the speculation of star player Carmelo Anthony jumping ship. Fortunately 8th place Atlanta has been plummeting in turn as the bar remains low enough for the Knickerbockers to clear.
Greetings from Brooklyn, New York (Atlantic Division
Greetings from New York City, New York (Atlantic Division
I've made "One Colour" variants for both New York teams. For Brooklyn its an inverse negative of the original. The Knicks variant is inspired by the bright Orange jerseys they've rocked the past few Christmases.
New York (One Colour edition)
Find these variants at the '30 Home Games' Facebook page
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions.
Next two teams: The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets

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
- Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona
For the definitive collection go to the NBA Postcards Tumblr

Friday, March 7, 2014

NBA Postcards: Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C.

I mentioned that my Postcards would be released as pairs in no particular order. That said I've found a meaning for each pairing, whether its sharing a mascot, sharing an arena or in this instance some Playoff history. The Washington Wizards offered LeBron James his first playoff rivalry, meeting several times in hotly contested First round matchups in his early days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

VIDEO: LeBron James 41pts VS Gilbert Arenas 34pts
Cleveland @ Wizards, Playoffs 2006
 

That rivalry dissolved long time ago, the Wizards Big 3 of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison parting ways and LeBron moving on to his own triumvirate in Miami. Both teams are currently headlined by #1 pick Point Guards, John Wall leading Washington and Cleveland commanded by Kyrie Irving.
Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio (Central Division)
Greetings from Washington, D.C. (Southeast Division
Kindly tell your friends and feel free to leave some comments and suggestions.
Next two teams: The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets

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
- Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona
For the definitive collection go to the NBA Postcards Tumblr