I love traveling. I also love watching professional basketball. Therefore it should be no surprise that I love traveling to watch professional basketball. And honestly, it's just been too long since that happened. It's the end of February already and I haven't taken in a single game outside of Verizon Center this season. That will all change in a big way in March.
Last season I took a couple of basketball vacations: a six night trek through Texas in mid-February to watch a Dallas Mavericks game and three D-League games and then a long weekend in March down to Orlando to watch the Wizards take on the Magic. This year I'm taking three trips, a total of seven nights in four different cities to watch the Wizards play twice and then exploring more of the NBDL when the Wizards are on their March west coast swing.
It all starts tomorrow when I get on a train and head north a couple of hours to Philadelphia for a Saturday night game against the 76ers, a team that after last Thursday's trade deadline is in full tank mode, chasing as many NBA lottery combinations as they can with a depleted roster. The following weekend, I'm hopping on an AirTran flight Friday afternoon bound for Milwaukee for another Saturday Wizards game, this time against the home Bucks, who currently hold the worst record in the NBA.
These trips will be the sixth and seventh time I have seen the Wizards on the road as I continue my quest to see my team play in every NBA team's arena. My criteria for these trips in the past have been simple: try to find a weekend game against a team that is down on its luck a little bit (meaning good tickets on the secondary market will be available on the cheap and we might win) in a city which is accessible via non-stop transportation. I'm using the same kind of judgment in making travel plans this coming month.
This year from the other teams' performance standpoint, I couldn't have picked any better opponents: the Sixers and the Bucks currently hold the NBA's two worst records and have won fewer home games than any other teams. Seems like a couple of easy victories to me, although in my previous five Wizards road games using a similar game selection strategy, my team has come away with a single victory. Such is life as a Wizards fan. Even when the deck is stacked significantly in your favor, you sometimes lose horribly anyway.
Twelve days after I return from Milwaukee, I'm off to New England to see a couple of more games in the NBA's Development League. This is the second year in a row I'll be exploring the D-League scene. This year's trip will take me into an area of the country where I grew up in rather than in central and southern Texas like last year's trip. The D-League is a complete world apart from the NBA. Guys playing in this league are just scrapping to survive and keep their dreams of making it to the big leagues alive. I'll be seeing that action first in Springfield, Massachusetts where the game of basketball was invented and then heading north to Portland, Maine for a couple of nights.
Along the way to discovering basketball in each of these cities, I'll be trying to find the history and soul of each place I visit and I'll of course write it all down here so when I am old and my memory is failing, I can try to remember what it was like and what I did the weekend the Wizards beat the Sixers or Bucks or before or after I took in another D-League game. I am not visiting any of these places for the first time, although I've admittedly never spent a night in Springfield or Portland but I'll try very hard to uncover something new about each place. It all starts tomorrow in Philly. Go Wizards!