With basketball season over and some time off, many NBA players use that time to take vacations and see new places. For Oklahoma Thunder star Danilo Gallinari, it’s become an annual event. Gallinari has traveled as part of NBA-sponsored groups over the last few years, visiting places like Vietnam, China, Senegal, and South Africa. This past summer, he took a trip to Taipei in Taiwan.
Gallinari ran basketball camps with kids as part of the Jr. NBA program. In his downtime, he got to go sightseeing and immerse himself in a new culture. It was a great way for Gallinari to unwind after getting traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Paul George deal.
“Being able to travel like this is exciting and fun for me,” Gallinari told Men’s Journal. “Learning from different cultures and talking to people is such a great experience, and getting to use basketball to do that is special. Learning more about where people come from is the most interesting part for me, and it’s great to see how much they love basketball.”
Over the years, the NBA has worked to expand internationally and these trips with players like Gallinari, Kyle Kuzma, Lou Williams, Aaron Gordon, and others, has helped to do that. Coming up in the 2019-20 season, the league is holding multiple preseason games in Japan (Raptors vs. Rockets), China (Lakers vs. Nets), and India (Pacers vs. Kings). The NBA has also held multiple Basketball Without Borders camps in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa this summer.
Gallinari spoke with us about traveling around Taiwan, the best foods he ate, his top travel advice, and more.
What do you enjoy most about doing these trips with the NBA?
It’s been exciting. I’ve been to Vietnam and China, so it’s great to see new places and experience the culture and people. Every place has something special to offer. I’m really enjoying the beauty of Taiwan, and I hope that every summer I can go to a different country I’ve never been to before. So we’ll see next summer where the NBA takes me.
What sites and places have you enjoyed most while visiting Taiwan?
We’ve seen lots of different areas of the city—including the Night Market, which has all this amazing food and stuff to see. We took a van about an hour hour outside the city to see some of the historical sites and museums. We also did some nature sightseeing, walking along the seaside of a river. We hiked and really got to immerse ourselves in the culture of Taipei.
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What are some of the best things you’ve eaten?
I like to try the local food no matter where I go. The food in Taiwan is pretty great. They have so many different things to try—seafood, meat, and vegetables. The dumplings were my favorite.
Any travel advice you follow?
I usually don’t pack a lot, because once I get to where I’m going, I always want to buy some local stuff for souvenirs to bring home. Always make sure you have extra room. I always check what the weather will be so I can pack accordingly.
You previously visited Vietnam with the NBA. What were some highlights?
It was amazing, and my first time in Vietnam. It was interesting getting to know how the people live there, and how people there approach basketball. In Ho Chi Minh, we saw Independence Palace, the famous Post Office, markets, and also went up on a rooftop that’s very famous. You can get a view of the whole city. I also had the chance to go two hours away from the city. We were able to see animals and feed crocodiles, which was a lot of fun. It’s not something you get to do every day. We tried so many different types of new foods, too We had honey tea, morning glory, soft shell crab, mango and papaya salad, and spring rolls.
What’s the best part about working with kids on these trips?
I love the passion and the excitement the kids have. They know everything about me and my career, and basketball itself, so they’re really passionate and very well informed about everything in the league. It’s awesome.
What are some of the different NBA events you do while you’re on these trips?
We have clinics and do basketball activities with the kids. We play on the court and teach them new things, and we also do events around the city. You meet the personalities of the city’s TV channels, and a lot of it’s events morning through night, but then you have time to go sightseeing, which is something I really enjoy getting to do.
Here’s more information on what the NBA is doing internationally for this season and beyond, with info courtesy of the NBA:
- The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets will play two preseason games in Japan in October 2019. The NBA Japan Games 2019 Presented by Rakuten will take place Tuesday, Oct. 8 and Thursday, Oct. 10 at Saitama Super Arena and will mark the league’s 13th and 14th games in Japan.
- NBA China Games 2019 Presented by Vivo will feature two preseason games between the 16-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers and Nets will play Thursday, Oct. 10 in Shanghai, followed by a rematch in Shenzhen on Saturday, Oct. 12. These will be the NBA’s 27th and 28th games in China, with 17 NBA teams having played games in Beijing, Guangzhou, Macao, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei since 2004.
- By the end of August, the NBA will have hosted four Basketball Without Borders camps this summer, including the 18th annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Europe Camp in Latvia, the 10th Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Americas camp in Colombia, the 17th edition of Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa in Senegal. The 11th edition of Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia will be held Aug. 14-17 at in Tokyo, marking the second time that the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program will be held in Japan. BWB Asia was previously conducted in Japan in 2012.
- The Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings will play in two preseason games in Mumbai in 2019, marking the first games the NBA has played in India and the first games staged in the country by a North American sports league. The NBA India Games 2019 will take place Friday, Oct. 4 and Saturday, Oct. 5 at the NSCI Dome.
- On July 28, 2019 the NBA and Tencent announced a five-year expansion of their existing partnership that will see Tencent – the NBA’s largest partner outside the U.S. – provide extensive NBA coverage on its platforms through the 2024-25 NBA season, including live NBA games, NBA programming and interactive fan experiences.
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