For the third straight year, a group from the Jordan Brand Classic is travelling Internationally -- this time to Istanbul, Turkey -- for a two-day training camp with 40 of the top prospects in Europe from March 3-8. Ten players will be selected as the Most Valuable Players from the camp and they will travel to the United States in April, along with six players from other regions of the world to compete in the third annual International Game as part of the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday, April 17th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Follow along with our blog and daily photo gallery from staff member Kevin Foley.
March 4th- Relaxation (12:00 am EST / 7:00 am Turkish time)
Good morning! That was one of the best nights of sleep I have ever had. When traveling Internationally (or across any time zones), it is really important to adjust your body to the time difference as soon as possible. So, it made the most sense to stay up as long as I could yesterday to get back to regular sleeping hours -- for me it was 9 pm to 7 am here locally. My body was so tired even though it was really 12 noon Phoenix time when I went to bed. Crazy, huh? The good news is that Marc received his luggage last night so things are looking up.
My hotel room is very nice and has a lot of unique features. I have a "waterfall" shower, which is just like the deluge ones you used to have in Chemistry class. It just pours down over you from about 9 feet. The television is an incredible flat screen with about 40 channels - but not too many in English. When entering your room, you have to put your key card in a slot right inside the door to turn on the electricity in the room. The lights are all sensorred so if you sit on your bed for 30 minutes then will all go out automatically -- great idea, until you need to stumble over everything to get them back on. All of the power outlets require a converter so I am limited with being able to plug in my laptop, cel phone, iPod and camera throughout the day. This is pretty standard in any Euopean country. The beds are also very comfortable -- but I could sleep on anything during this trip.
Well I am off to breakfast for a little bit - I will check back soon! We have a bunch of meetings and prep time today, topped off by my first EuroLeague game tonight - EFES PILSEN (turkey) vs. REAL MADRID (spain). I am very excited about it!
March 4th (5:00 pm EST / 12:00 am Turkish time)
What an awesome experience tonight. After an afternoon filled with event preparation - working on getting the player gear ready and visiting the arena -- we drove across town about 45 minutes to see a EuroLeague game. For those of you not familiar with it, it is Europe's version of the NBA, but there are many differences. We went to see the Turkish team Efes Pilsen, named after the Turkish beer (which I sampled at dinner and enjoyed) against Real Madrid of Spain. Both teams were 2-2 in their division so it was set to be a very pivotal game.
Upon arriving outside the arena, all you see are thousands of people streaming to the main entrance. Think college football, NASCAR and Duke's Cameron Crazies all rolled into one. To say that fans are passionate about their EuroLeague team, that is a major understatement. We walked into the arena almost 30 minutes before the game and the crowd sounded like it was in the last two minutes of a game. The chanting, drumming, singing, screaming and whisting was overwhelming at first, but once I started to lose my hearing, it was pretty cool to see such enthusiasm.
It was great to see a number of recognizable names on the court -- Bootsy Thornton (St. Johns), Louis Bullick (Michigan), Charles Smith (New Mexico), Travis Hansen (BYU), Preston Shumpert (Syracuse) and former NBA player Marko Juric. The players were very physical and passionate throughout the entire game. Down by double-digits at halftime, Efes Pilsen roared back thanks to some clutch three-point shooting, but could not overtake Real Madrid for the win. Check out the photos below.
Well, I am off to bed -- it has been a long day. Tomorrow we have our press conference and then the players start to arrive. I am looking forward to getting the camp going!