Thursday, September 12, 2019

How basketball leads to connection: Isaac Eger on the 'Dear Adam Silver' podcast by Abigail Smithson

Writer and baller Isaac Eger AKA @gluten_daddy

I founded my 30HomeGames mission in Vilnius, Lithuania. I created the project after an unforgettable month traveling the country as the hoopsmad nation hosted EuroBasket 2011. It was my way of preserving that spirit and hopefully a way to keep chasing that high. It was the highlight of my year backpacking Europe, unlocking experiences and connections through a shared love of basketball.

My approach to travel is an extension of how I approach life: Wherever you are, be an interesting and interested person. Basketball becoming my wayfinder these past few years since founding @30HomeGames. I consume and follow plenty of hoops writers. Whilst traveling for work can be standard in sports journalism, I hadn't found many writers with the travel experience or approach that resonated with me.

Rafe Bartholomew was one I admired, he's an American who traveled deeply around the Philippines. Immersing himself in the culture and learning the language in order to understand why a small island nation was obsessed with basketball.

Isaac Eger was another. I found him through some streetball articles a few years ago. I enjoyed his gonzo approach to life and basketball and followed him since. He was a recent guest on artist Abigail Smithson's podcast 'Dear Adam Silver'. She discovered him the same way, describing him in the episode intro thusly:
Isaac is a writer and pickup basketball player, he has played the game all over the world. From Sarasota, Florida to New York City, to Cuba, Israel, Lithuania and Tibet. I reached out to Isaac a couple of years ago after reading an essay he wrote for Los Angeles Magazine about playing street basketball in LA.
In the episode, Abigail and Isaac discuss the power of games and how it allows us to connect with strangers and strange lands.
'Dear Adam Silver' Episode 12: Isaac Eger on the Art of Playing Pickup Basketball
ISAAC EGER: (43m 08s) We play basketball for reasons beyond just the game itself. I think that playing pickup basketball forces you to interact with people in a way that you wouldn't otherwise. I love playing basketball in different countries because I don't feel like a tourist. You know I feel very much on the level with everybody else...
ABIGAIL SMITHSON: Yeah it just seems like a powerful way to sort of build belonging where there is no belonging.
Abigail continues with a point that I've personally lived by. I backpacked Europe in 2011, then South America in 2013.  All my travels since have been Stateside or around Australia, always instigated by basketball. The beauty of this calling is it allows me to explore overlooked locales and find appreciation for any destination.
SMITHSON: (45m 12s) Yeah and I think when you're going to a new place and you get off a plane and then all of a sudden there's this other language around you and everything that you're used to is different. The fact that knowing you have a starting point is really a nice thing. It's like you can always go back to basketball to interact with that place. Rather than feeling like you have nothing to do or feel very groundless. 

My @30homegames Instagram project has been a handy catalyst for me to seek adventure. Because I've designed it so every post is basketball related, plenty of life experience goes uncatalogued. It's these times that are often the most unforgettable. Lost in the moment with newly made friends, wandering the unbeaten path. Feeling like Alice in Wonderland.
EGER: (45m 38s) That's the first place I always go to whenever I travel. I always look for the basketball court and I let everything else happen on the way to the basketball court. I'm very frequently on foot and a lot of the stories I write about that have nothing to do with basketball, I discover to and from the basketball court. When I go travel, I don't look to go to museums any more. I always found it to be a funny phenomena where people don't go to the museums in their hometown but the second they're in Paris, "We got to go to the Louvre". It's just like "Why?". Why do you feel like you have to go? So I almost avoid that and so if there's a basketball court on the way to the Louvre or I meet an employee there that can get me in for free or I get some special treatment then hell yeah I'll go. Otherwise I don't want to follow the same grooves everyone else has gone through in their travels...
Playing streetball with Colombian locals on Christmas Day 2013
My camera roll is odd and cryptic, devoid of selfies or tourist photos much to my parents chagrin. I have an archive of obscure jerseys in the wild, hoops of the world and nerdy stealth shots. I do it because I enjoy it. I learnt a while ago that one has to find joy in the process. In travel as in life, doing things to impress others is a fool's game if you're not enjoying the lived experience.
SMITHSON: (47m 17s) I don't think that following that blueprint of "these are the places you can't miss". It leaves you feeling a little bit like you've experienced this place in a very enclosed way and your idea of that place hasn't necessarily changed based on your experience.
EGER: Think about the way people share or position themselves relative to these places they have to go visit? I'm sure you've seen the people who are always holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
SMITHSON: Yeah, of course.
EGER: It becomes–It's no different than a green screen at that point.
SMITHSON: Totally. I have to say if I was there, it would be hard for me not to do it. I mean I've never been. I would just do because maybe that's why we interact with that space but I understand I'm trying not to seek them out because I think it lessens the chance that there's this unknown and a variable and when you have a list and when you have a travel book of all the sights you should see. Those variables you can't hear them as much.
Read Isaac Eger's articles:
What Pickup Basketball Reveals About L.A.
- ‘I Got Next’: Exploring New York Through Pickup Basketball
- @gluten_daddy on Instagram

Find Abigail Smithson's work here:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

30HomeGames goes Hollywood 2019 (LA and Sacramento): NBA Roadtrip wishlist

30HomeGames is going Hollywood for #NBLxNBA 2019.
Follow the journey at #30HGpacific
I'll be returning to California in October. My last visit to the Golden State was in summer 2017. I watched a bunch of comedy and went to my first WNBA game, a Finals rematch between the LA Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx. As with most 30HomeGames trips, this coming trip was a confluence of events which led to an impulse decision. The 3 California games I watch on this trip takes my tally of NBA arenas visited at 15, the halfway point of my mission.
  • Favourable dates for #NBLxNBA III. Melbourne United playing two Californian teams in the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings
  • The Warriors playing the Lakers in that span
  • Affordable flights from Sydney to LA
  • The blockbuster trades that make LA the undisputed centre of the basketball universe
  • Any excuse to binge on LA's comedy scene again


1111 S Figueroa St,
Los Angeles, California 90015

Los Angeles Clippers NBA schedule
Thu Oct 10 - Denver
Sun Oct 13 - Melbourne UTD (12:30pm) ----------

Los Angeles Lakers NBA schedule
Mon Oct 14 - Golden State (7:30pm) ----------
Wed Oct 16 - Golden State

- The Pistol Shrimps (Oct 15, 8pm at North Weddington) ----------
WNBA Finals (Last possible Finals date Oct 10)
Agua Caliente Clippers (Nov 9 start)
South Bay Lakers (Nov 9 start)

- Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- 'You Got it Dude' Bar Wrestling (Oct 9)

- 'Motherland Comedy', Thursdays [Oct 10] 8:30pm at Kusina Filipina ----------
- 'Good Looks', Wednesdays 8pm at UCB Franklin
- Neal Brennan shows, Tuesdays at Westside Comedy Theater
- 'Pete Holmes Living at Largo' (Oct 11, 8:30pm at Largo) ----------
- "Hi I’m Rachel and This is My Show" - Starring Rachel Bloom (Oct 15, 8pm at Largo) ----------
- Team Coco House Shows (Oct 3-5)

9 Arcades and Bars to get your Pinball fix
Button Mash

VIDEO: Kyle Kuzma's Guide to Los Angeles | FLY BY

- The Exchange (Alex Chang)
- Solomon's Studio (Victor Solomon)
- Amiri Studio (Mike Amiri)

- Rose Bowl Flea Market (Oct 13)
- Round Two Store LA + Hollywood (Melrose Ave)
- For All To Envy (North La Brea Ave.)
- Melrose Trading Post
- Gallery 1988 (7308 Melrose Ave)
- Museum of Jurassic Technology (9341 Venice Blvd)
- Levitated Mass at LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd)
- New Beverly Cinema (7165 Beverly Blvd)
- Spoon by H (7158 Beverly Blvd)
5 ways to get into the Magic Castle
- Value suits: LA Suit Outlet 3 (380 E 15th), Giorgio Rossi (830 S LA), Mens Suit (1208 Santee)



Golden 1 Center
500 David J Stern Walk,
Sacramento, California 95814

Thu Oct 10 - Phoenix
Wed Oct 16 - Melbourne UTD (7pm) ----------

- Sac Comedy Spot (Sac Comedy Fest, Oct 3-6)
- Punch Line Sacramento

Coin-Op Game Room
In the Sacramento area, pinball retains its allure in a digital age (Sac Bee)

VIDEO: Comedian Hasan Minhaj talks to ABC10 about being a die-hard Kings fan

The Return of the "King" (Hasan Minhaj for Sactown Mag)
Natomas In-N-Out
Dos Coyotes

- 50 things to do in Sacramento (SAC Mag)
19 super-fun things to do in Sacramento (Time Out)
Explore Sacramento With This Lady Bird Tour
- The Cheesecake Factory (Arden Fair)

Californian comics: Jensen Karp, Hasan Minhaj and Larry David
Check out my previous NBA wishlists:
North Carolina All Stars 2019: Basketball roadtrip to Charlotte, Davidson, UNC and Duke
NBL x NBA Wishlist for Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Phoenix
- Basketball Never Stops 2017 (Seattle and LA): NBA Roadtrip wishlist
The South 2017: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
Texas Triangle 2016: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
#30HGroadtrip on Instagram