Friday marks the start of pre-season basketball, at least for the Boston Celtics. They’ll be playing Fenerbahçe Ülker at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. If you haven’t heard of Fenerbahçe Ülker, you’re not the only one–they’re part of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and their game with the Celitcs will be played in Istanbul.
From the exhaustive, ten minutes of research I’ve done, NBA teams frequently play teams from other nations–and the Celtics aren’t the only NBA team getting in on it. The Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and others all have dates with teams from Spain and Italy within the next couple of weeks.
Well, I guess it’s not actually all that weird to long-time followers of the sport, but it strikes this newcomer as downright bizarre.
In Major League Baseball you have Winter League play, but those are player affairs. Whole teams don’t just hop on an 11-hour plane flight to take their game overseas. At least, I don’t think they do. I’m not really an expert on the goings on of the MLB, but I’m pretty sure I’d remember the Red Sox playing a game in Australia.
All of this is to say that with the start of the regular season less than a month away, I still have a lot to learn about the sport of basketball. I’m not worried, though. I’ve got enough of it down to follow the videos I’ve found on YouTube and some classic games I’ve caught on NBA-TV.
Also–miracle of miracles–I’ve started to enjoy the game, much to the disdain of several friends and family members. It’s fast-paced, but not hard to follow once you understand what’s going on. There’s a point at which you cease to see ten guys running around and start seeing screens and openings.
And that feeling of comprehension couldn’t have come at a better time. With the Red Sox’s worst season since 1965 officially over, I’m experiencing my first ever case of sports withdrawal. It’s a disturbing sensation and one I hope to remedy as quickly as possible.
I’ll be on the road during the Celtics game in Istanbul, but I’ll be here Sunday when they go to Milan. The only question then will be how much of the game my daughter will let me watch.