Thanksgiving 2017 marks the seventh Turkey Day in eight years that I have spent away from home. Next month, I will celebrate my eighth consecutive Christmas away from home. Life on the road means missing holidays, birthdays, graduations, and every other cause for celebration. As I approach a decade of professional basketball in Europe, it’s now the norm to be absent from the family holiday photos.
This is by no means a message of discontent. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’ve traded holidays at home for holidays around the globe, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Here is where basketball has allowed me to experience some Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays over the years.
- Maui, Hawaii
- New York, New York
- Mariupol, Ukraine
- Nantes, France
- Bayreuth, Germany
- New York, New York
- Nuremburg, Germany
- Warsaw, Poland
- Bethlehem, Palestine
- Vienna, Austria
Traveling with Carolina Basketball prepared me for the time I would miss with my family, especially around the holidays. It was because of Carolina that I experienced Thanksgiving on the beach in Maui, and the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC from my hotel window. Every day I’m thankful for all that we experienced traveling with the Tar Heels, and for laying the groundwork for a passion of traveling that now runs deeply through my veins.
The Heels are also away from home this Thanksgiving, nearly 3,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon, competing in the highly anticipated PK80 Nike Basketball Tournament. Carolina’s bracket features two Top 10 teams, while the other bracket boasts an additional three Top 25 teams. Match-ups between Carolina and Arkansas and Oregon or Michigan State are more than enough to get my blood pumping this holiday weekend!
The Tar Heels will have lots to be thankful for if this trip earns them three victories away from home, one of which could be a high-quality win over an elite team in Michigan State. This is a great opportunity for guys like Pinson, Berry II, Williams and Woods to lead the younger players towards the championship mentality needed to succeed at Carolina.
Win or lose, this is an extremely important moment in the season for us, a key point where being away from one’s family can build the necessary chemistry and focus with your basketball family to be successful. However, it’s no secret that success in the month of November has historically been a good sign for the Heels in March.