Andrew Unterberger's Border-less Basketball Bender

by

Rudy Gayby

I sat on a bench outside of Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q, on Friday night. I waited approximately 45 minutes for the person I was meeting. I think I witnessed a drug deal.

There was no harm in waiting. I was in no hurry.

The same could not be said for the person I was meeting who has been in a hurry for the last month.

Andrew Unterberger, 24, is living the dream of any hoophead/ people-watcher/ sociologist/ aspiring vagabond.

On November 2, Andrew announced on The Basketball Jones that he would be attempting to attend a home game for each of the 30 teams in the NBA, over the course of 60 days. In other words, a road trip stretching as north as Toronto to as south as Miami, as west as Portland to as east as Boston. 30 teams’ home games in 60 days. 29 total arenas when you factor in that the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers share the Staples Center.

After attending each game, Andrew chronicles his experience in a written post on The Basketball Jones website. Arena recaps include: Introduction, The Stadium, The Game, The Fans, Most Popular Jerseys, Local Pop Culture Tie-Ins, Also Worth Noting, and the Sirius/XM Jam of the Day.

Written in a conversational, relaxed manner, Andrew’s observations and musings are equally informative and humorous. A particular favorite of mine comes from a side-trip Andrew took when he went to an NBDL (Basically, the NBA’s minor league.) game in Albuquerque. Andrew writes: “I eventually realized that the main difference about going to D-League games is that when you try to heckle the players - I started yelling for Tucker to shoot the ball almost every time he touched it, and ragged on him when he failed to do so - not only can they actually hear you, but they can very easily isolate you as the asshole shouting at them. (I wasn’t drunk enough to have the courage of my convictions, so I quickly backed off.)”

I kept waiting to see Andrew’s mythical, red, 2001 Toyota Corolla pull into Rudy’s parking lot. Eventually it did. The sky was dark, but not dark enough to minimize the layer of dirt caked to Andrew’s car.

According to Andrew, arriving in San Antonio had pushed his road trip mileage to a staggering 10,000 miles. That’s like driving from San Antonio to Honolulu, Hawaii and back. Even more impressive, he’d only had one oil change since the road trip started in his home base, New York City.

Sitting down for barbecue, I learned Andrew studied Journalism at New York University, graduating in May 2009. Andrew discussed the idea of completing the NBA arena marathon with his father, and the opportunity to execute the idea became a reality when Andrew became unemployed. The company Andrew was working for announced they were relocating to Tampa Bay, Florida.

I guess this is where I can just throw out some random facts about Andrew.

Andrew is originally from Philadelphia and contributes to the Philadelphia sports blog, The 700 Level. Andrew’s favorite player is fellow Philly-native, Kobe Bryant. Andrew grew up a fan of the Utah Jazz’s title-less twins, John Stockton and Karl Malone. Andrew rooted for the Phoenix Suns every time they played the San Antonio Spurs, describing the Spurs as the “Evil Empire.”

Admittedly, our conversation was brief. Andrew had a Spurs game to attend. From there, Andrew was due in Dallas for Saturday night’s game against the Utah Jazz. And tonight (Sunday), in Oklahoma City for the Thunder hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Evil Empire” label aside, Andrew is always welcome back to San Antonio. The Spurs got their 19th victory of the season during Andrew's 19th stop. Counting the Thunder’s victory over the Cavaliers tonight, the home team has won at Andrew’s last seven stops - Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

To echo what Spencer Hall commented, after Andrew visited Salt Lake City: “Enjoy the rest of the journey, and keep up the great dispatches.”

Andrew’s review of the AT&T Center has yet to be published, but will be available: here.

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