MyTown

Boston With Brian Scalabrine
Chicago With Joakim Noah
New York With Danilo Gallinari
Houston With Jordan Hill
NEW! Orlando With Rashard Lewis

First Stop: Boston

Last month, we kicked off an ambitious video project with Yardbarker and Wondershot Productions that’s taken us to 5 different cities to spend time with 5 NBA players, as part of myTown presented by T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

In early April, Celtics big man Brian Scalabrine treated us to breakfast at Piccolo Nido in Boston’s North End – the city’s Little Italy section.

The venue has a place in Celtics history and lore (if not only in the mind of its owner, Pino Irano). After a cultural lesson about the neighborhood and the venue, Pino launched into a spiel about how he warded off evil spirits around the Celtics that eventually led to their championship run in 2008. To hear him tell it, Doc Rivers has bought into the superstition and frequents the venue, particularly around playoff time. Pino went ahead and performed a blessing on Scal which involved sage, a pouch of unknown (allegedly religious) items, salt and a kiss. You truly needed to be there to experience.

We then headed to shopping-heavy Newbury Street , where Scal was greeted as the local celebrity he is. He explained that he has a special fondness for the area, as it was part of the route for the Championship parade, and recounted his impressions of the day.

One of Scal’s favorite things to do is spend quality time in one of the area’s many parks with his two daughters. We cap the day off at a park in Cambridge and go for a swing on the jungle gym, before Scal ditches us for his family.

Throughout the day, we talked about his radio gig, team chemistry, post-career aspirations, and how much he enjoys living in Boston and the spirit of the fans.

“Boston is the best of both worlds…convenience of a smaller city, but it has the culture and all the amenities of a New York…I like Boston better than all the cities I’ve ever been to, even the cities that I travel to…it’s the perfect type of city for me.”

“Boston fans are what makes Boston, Boston. If it weren’t for them, we’d just be another city. Our fans – with the love-hate relationship of sports – makes us who we are and makes the city who it is.”

Second Stop: Chicago

Last month we hit Chicago on the second leg of our journey that’s taken us to 5 different cities to spend time with 5 NBA players. It’s all part of myTown presented by T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

After scouting out some venues for BwB3 and trying to take in as much of the city’s character that one can in such a short time window, we caught up with Chicago Bulls rising star Joakim Noah – who showed us around his pad, told us about the uniqueness of the city and his love for its fans.

Noah, son of a tennis legend and his model wife, is as colorful, candid and carefree as one might expect from a 20-something-year-old from New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. But after spending time with him, we can attest that his work ethic and on-court drive are undeniable. We spent a good portion of the day in his personal gym and on his court, talking about both the physical preparation that goes into being a top-tier professional athlete, and also the mental adjustments that becoming a young kid living hundreds of miles from home, in the public eye, with unimaginable income, who travels the country a good portion of the year demand.

While most people (including us) associate Chicago culinary specialties with pizza and hot dogs, I came to discover that the city takes its BBQ seriously, and everyone is loyal to their preferred joint. Noah is no exception. At an unassuming place called Woodfire Chicken in the Deerfield suburb, Noah and his fellow Bulls – past and present – are treated like royalty. And since we were his guests, so were we.

Chris, an admitted Windy City-hater, has since been reformed, and there isn’t a better proponent for the town than our cameraman Mitch. Can’t wait to get back in June for BwB.

If you missed our video of Boston with Celtics big man Brian Scalabrine, you can view it here.

Third Stop: New York

Our next stop on our journey to 5 different cities to spend time with 5 NBA players was New York City. Don caught up with Knicks forward and Italian import Danilo Gallinari as part of myTown presented by T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

While the Knicks have struggled in recent years, young guns like Gallo (along with a talent-rich free agent pool) have given New Yorkers hope for an MSG NBA revival. No one is more optimistic than the baby-faced sharp shooter from Milan who loves everything the Big Apple has to offer.

Not only is his coach an old family friend (his father’s old roommate), but he’s already forming a solid, young core with the likes of Chris Duhan. Walking the streets of midtown, the notoriously demanding Big Apple fans have taken notice and express as much to Gallo.

In making a pitch to land a big name free agent this offseason, he points out the fact that if you win in New York, you’ve won on the biggest stage in the world and will earn a fanbase that will forever remain loyal. What could be more appealing than that?

Off the court, he’s as big a proponent for the New York tourism industry as anyone. He’s found a city where he can both experience the best the big city has to offer, or get away at a place like Uva on the Upper East Side and retreat to some of the familiar comforts of his homeland.

If it were up to him, he’d spend the rest of his life as a Knick. Something you might have thought was a joke if you heard it three years ago.

If you missed our video of Boston with Celtics big man Brian Scalabrine, you can view it here; and check out the fun we had in Chicago with Joakim Noah here.

Fourth Stop: Houston

After Don did New York up right with Danilo Gallinari of the Knicks, Chris spent a day in Houston with Gallo’s former teammate and current Houston Rocket, Jordan Hill as part of the myTown series presented by T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

Jordan, who has thus far made a big impression on Rocket fans by making the most of his minutes, took us around to his favorite spots and talked about how his new environment in Houston is a good fit for him. Originally hailing from Atlanta, Jordan’s made himself at home pretty much everywhere (“in the south everyone’s family”) – from the Breakfast Klub to the bowling alley. Like our other hosts, Hill is the consummate tour guide, but what really stands out is how he carries himself around a town he was traded to midseason – excessively friendly, and genuinely interested in the fans that come up to him.

While we didn’t get a chance to meet them, Hill has formed an impressive bond with the players in the Jack Yates High basketball program. National Champs and celebrities in their own right, they still find themselves shooting hoops at Hill’s House (even borrowing his car to go to prom on one occaision). His easy going manner allows him to move seamlessly between hanging out with the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow and going up against the big men of today’s NBA. As you’ll see, it’s also what helps him to pick up a spare with a behind-the-back-through-the-legs shot.

If you missed our video of Boston with Celtics big man Brian Scalabrine, you
can view it here
; and check out the fun we had in Chicago with Joakim Noah here.
Or revisit New York with Danilo Gallinari here.

COMING SOON: Don heads to Orlando to hang out with Eastern Conference Semi-Finalist Rashard Lewis of the Magic. Fingers crossed for a day at Disney!

Fifth Stop: Orlando

Last month, we kicked off an ambitious video project with Yardbarker and Wondershot Productions that’s taken us to 5 different cities to spend time with 5 NBA players, as part of myTown presented by T-Mobile myTouch 3G.

After catching championship fever with a trip to the Finals in 08-09, young veteran leaders like Jameer Nelson, Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis, have the Orlando Magic looking as much like a perennial Eastern powerhouse as any.

Don caught up with Rashard in the Sunshine State this month, where he was hosting his annual youth basketball camp. While breaking down the fundamentals (off-ball movement, defense and passing), the Magic forward looks to not only shape kids on the court, but off as well. For a guy that entered the League as a teen, he now comfortably embraces his part as a local role model, explaining that as the only pro team in town, the Magic hold a special relationship with Central Floridians.

At the camp, despite not having picked up a rock in well over 3 years, Don held his own as Lewis put him through a handful of drills with an assist from our man, Magic blogger, Ben Q. Rock.

After working up a sweat, we headed over to Universal’s City Walk to hang and grab a bite at one of Lewis’ favorite places: NBA City. Thinking he’d have a better chance of taking Rashard down a peg at pop-a-shot than he would on the hardwood, Don willingly accepted all challenges in the arcade. It wasn’t until at this point that he fully embarrassed himself with a number of laughable shooting performances.

After shaking just about every hand and posing for every photo request, Rashard took us back to his crib to unwind and call his daughter.

If you missed any of our previous installments, be sure to check them out by clicking the links below:

Boston With Brian Scalabrine
Chicago With Joakim Noah
New York With Danilo Gallinari
Houston With Jordan Hill

Over the last 2 months, we’ve collectively hit up 5 different cities and hung with 5 incredibly unique NBA stars. As an unsolicited testament to our sponsor T-Mobile, we wouldn’t have gotten far without the numerous apps we downloaded on our myTouch phones.

Special thanks to Yardbarker for their work in setting up the project, and Wondershot Productions – specifically Mitch – for their work filming and editing. If you thought athletes had reputations as being prima donnas, you’ve obviously never been to Blogs With Balls and hung with a bunch of sports bloggers. And yes, while some athletes certainly are diva-ish, none of the guys we featured fit that mold. Each welcomed us into their lives – giving us a glimpse of where they eat, sleep and play – and showed us that they just want to go out, play hard, earn fans’ respect, and hopefully be able to enjoy little reminders of home in their spare time.

Presented by:

MyTown