Yes, I’m extremely excited to announce that having booked my flights yesterday, there is now nothing that can stop me from reaching the promised land of basketball. For five weeks I will be soaking up everything the USA and the NBA has to offer. It’s not my first time to the States – I was over there in July ’04 with three friends, road-tripping over 11,000 kilometers in our 30-foot Cruise America motor home (if the couple who I sideswiped in LA ever read this, I’m sorry I almost killed you). But this will be the first time I’ve seen a live NBA game, and to say I’m looking forward to it would be as big an understatement as saying Jessica Alba looks nice.

I don’t want to get emotional here, but having followed this sport obsessively from the other side of the globe for the last fifteen years, and now to be getting the opportunity to see my basketball idols in the flesh, to look up at the banners hanging from the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Staples Center, well… it’s a dream come true. From the days of playing two-on-two during junior school lunch with Ham, Morgan, Fab, Luke and Brent, pretending I was Timmy Hardaway or Shawn Kemp or whoever took my fancy that week. To the afternoons spent in IT class in middle school, following the Bulls v Jazz Finals (both years) on the then very ancient play-by-play alongside Bucky my Utah-supporting friend. To the early days of “The Revival”, when we dusted off our Nikes and Reebok Pumps to start up our Thursday night team after a three-year lockout. To the days I spent hours writing a blog that I knew no one was reading, but I didn’t care one bit. To now, booking tickets to see the games and players that inspired me throughout all those years.

Basketball has been a driving force and inspiration throughout my life, not just for sport and for fun, but for the basic principles that touch every facet of life in general: teamwork, competitiveness, playing together, performing under pressure, leading by example, overcoming adversity, playing through pain, making yourself better, making others better, learning to win, dealing with loss. It’s been said countless times before; basketball mirrors life, and though I will someday lose the spring in my leap and the stroke on my three, I will never forget the lessons I learnt while bouncing that round orange ball. Basketball has given me so much, and now, with the chance to walk into the arenas housing the greatest players in the world, I feel like I can finally give something back to the game. I can cheer for Rip and Sheed and Kobe and Deron, and for once, they will hear me.

I’m flying over early April and will catch the last two weeks of the regular season. Nine games in thirteen days is the idea, a schedule that will let me see a few Lakers games and a few Detroit games, the Rockets, Magic, Jazz, Mavs, Nuggets, Nets, Pacers, Bulls, Hornets and Spurs. And if Bogut is back on the court I will do everything in my power to check out a Bucks game. When the regular season ends I’ll still have another three weeks left, and I will try my best to get tickets to a playoff game… somewhere. In between all of that I’ll be hanging with some friends in NY, and of course, blogging for NBAMate as regularly as possible. I imagine I’ll have plenty to say once I’m over there, so make sure to check back during April.

If any one has any tips on what to see while I’m over there, how to get good tickets, where to drink good beer, etc. then feel free to share them in the comments. My itinerary is pretty loose, there is no part of America that is off limits, so all suggestions are welcome at this point.

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