2k8 International Tour, Day 5: Rome

From February 21st through March 3rd, a group from Jordan Brand will travel to Europe to select 12 players for the inaugural International Game as part of the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday, April 19th at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  The following is a blog and daily photo gallery from Kevin Foley, who will be along for the trip.

Rome (February 27): The competition was turned up a notch on the second day of the Rome camp as the players started to become very competitive for the four MVP spots and a trip to New York City.  The message was clear from Tim Grover and Ganon Baker at the end of the session last night -- the door was wide-open for the kids to play hard to earn their spot on the Jordan Brand Classic International Team.  The day started off with the semifinals and championship games and then the announcement of the 16-player all-star team.  You could see the heartbreak much more in Italy than Lithuania for the kids who were not selected as the elite players.  It was pretty obvious that there is much more pressure in this region.

In the afternoon, all of the staff and players boarded buses to head to a media event at Caesar's Imperial Dining Room.  It was an incredible building at the bottom of a long winding pathway.  Nike Italy had decorated the rooms with Michael Jordan imagery and a display of some of his greatest shoes.  It was a sight to see 'old' clash with 'new' in a very artistic way.  Do you think Caesar even imagined this space decorated in the manner a few thousand years ago?

After a short afternoon nap, I wandered out with a few other staffers on our first chance to walk around the city.  I had visited Rome a few years ago and it is one of my favorite cities in the world.  It is hard to describe just how breathtaking the buildings, ruins and modern additions help to shape the personality of the city.   There is just so much culture.  We went to the Trevi Fountain, where you are supposed to walk to its side, turn-around, make a wish and throw a coin into the water.  Like a lot of landmarks throughout the world, it is filled with peddlers trying to make a buck (or 'Euro') of ridiculous souvenirs.  We also saw the Coliseum at night.

At night, we went out to an incredible restaurant for an authentic Italian meal.  Do you ever have one of meals where you just want to keep eating forever?  That's how I felt.  Afterwards we went out to a trendy bar called Fluid which had water in the floor tiles and the seats were ice cubes.  Crazy thing about Rome, you can just be walking down a random alley and here is this incredibly cool place.  We made one more stop at a local night club to finish off the evening.  It was pretty cool to see a ton of people who barely spoke any English dancing and singing to rap and R&B.  Funny how everyone know the words to any Kanye West song no matter where you are from.  We are all looking forward to our first day off tomorrow to catch up on some sleep, work and do some more sightseeing.

A regular toilet in Rome ...