This past august I was invited by USA Basketball to participate in a promotional tour in Melbourne, Australia. The USA National team will play 2 games in August of 2019 against the Boomers, the Australian National team, in preparation for the World Championships in China.
They will play in what could be the highest attended international basketball game in history. Etihad Stadium also known by its current sponsorship name of Marvel Stadium, holds 55,000, and the teams will play 2 games within 3 days. In 4 days half the tickets were sold!
I was invited as a representative because I was a member of the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal team in Sydney. We played an exhibition game in Melbourne on the way to Sydney.
It’s hard to believe that was 18 years ago. I didn’t have much time to get out around Melbourne then, so this time I made sure I did. Melbourne is a dynamic city, full of culture, arts, great restaurants and people who love sports. The city's hosting team was outstanding, taking us on helicopter rides to wineries.
I went to my 1st Australian league football game and immediately became a fan. I translate it as a mix between, soccer, basketball, and American football. Players average 15 miles of running per match. Talk about endurance!
So one of our guides recommended I visit Hosier Lane, known for its street art. Visitors come from all over and artists are free to create graffiti on the walls. So I walked about 1.5 miles, something I don’t get to do much, and it was great to get out and see a new city and walk around to experience its culture and life. I passed cafes, churches, restaurants, bars, stores, and finally got to the street. I almost passed it because it was so narrow. The site was amazing. The art was incredible. Expansive murals lined the entire length of the stone filled street. One entire side of a building had a painting of Ben Simmons (originally from outside Melbourne).
As I got halfway down the road, I saw this well-lit store that stood out. I remember the tour guide said, “if you go to that street, stop in Culture Kings,” so I walked in and immediately thought I was in a club that sold the latest urban fashion in the world. Drake was playing.. Looked up and saw a DJ booth upstairs..
So I immediately asked the manager if they carry NBA licensed apparel, since I’m in the business. He didn’t know who I was, nor did I expect him to, but it was fun exploring.
We talked more about the city and my trip, until he realized who I was. I then found something I wanted to try on, and before I found the dressing room, I looked up and saw a gold plated regulation basket!
So I had to ask... "Do people shoot on that?!"
My man said, “Oh Yeah! the record is 30 in a row!!”
Of course I didn’t make it to the dressing room to try on those clothes!
Here's what happened next: