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Wending our way through the NBA, turning back to the East


There’s almost too much; hell, the Smithsonian alone is like a dozen different buildings and you’d have to have days to cover it off.

So I’m going with my three favourite, two of the most powerful stops you can make and one, well, one you’ll understand why.

You need to go see the Vietnam memorial and you need do the Holocaust museum and they make shake you. Amazing. And then go to the Newseum, a museum of news, because it’s cool.

Things

The area around the arena might be the most vibrant of any stop in the league. We’re partially to Clyde’s as a post-game stop, the Legal Seafoods across the street is really good and Chinatown is right there, stopped for the odd dim sum post-shootaround lunch and it’s seldom been a disappointment.

Georgetown’s trendy but I’ve got no recommendations there because we haven’t stayed out that way in years and years.

Atlanta

I do not like Atlanta an awful lot. I am sure it has all kinds of good parts but the 1996 Olympics have left a scar, I’ve been in the worst traffic there than I’ve ever been, the downtown panhandling is aggressive and, frankly, threatening. I have friends there, I know people in the NBA who like it a lot, I’m sure it has great parts. If I never went again, I would miss seeing friends but that’s it.

So …

Culture/history

If you don’t go to the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social change, you’ve missed out. Did it one day years ago and it’s a must-see. I also have the utmost respect for Jimmy Carter and his library and museum, while I haven’t been, I hope to get there once. Dude’s in his 90s and still building houses with Habitat for Humanity, how can you not like him?

Things

I never venture far from the hotel, to tell you the truth. It’s part that we seem to get a lot of back-to-backs with Atlanta and that doesn’t leave a night off and it’s part because we’re downtown and I don’t want to go anywhere. There’s a good bar near the CNN called Stats that was okay but that’s about it.

I’m pretty sure I’m treating Atlanta unfairly but, you know what, sorry. It’s my experience there.

Charlotte

I’m an unabashed fan of Charlotte. Solid airport not too far from downtown, great walking around area by the hotels and arena, weather’s usually good and the people are solid.

Might be the hidden gem of my annual travels.

Culture/history

This is not something that I’d want to do by any stretch but I’m told the NASCAR museum is quite something and the Mint Museum is also highly-regarded although, again, it’s not somewhere I’ve been.

But I kind of just like the feel of the city – not the state, the city – and I’d imagine you could find a lot to do.

Things

I’m a huge fan of the downtown area, it’s easy walking, there’s plenty of choices to eat and drink that run the gamut of prices and experiences.

I’m partial to Ri Ra, of course. Great Irish place a couple of blocks from (a) my hotel and (b) the arena. Once had a nice chat with a barkeep from Ballinsaloe, where I spent a memorable Irish night one time. The new kid on the block is Queen City Q for barbecue, you can’t go wrong.

But while trying not to sound like a Charlotte Chamber of Commerce employee, you can’t go wrong a lot of places.

Miami

Aside from the fact it thunderstorms every day between 4 and 6 p.m. and it does nothing to alleviate the humidity, it’s not a bad city. I don’t do beachessome of you have seen me – and I am as far from South Beach Trendy as it gets but there are other parts where I fit and I’m fine with that.

Culture/history

I haven’t done an awful lot in Miami in terms of sightseeing or soaking up the local flavour although I do try to walk around Little Havana if at all possible. Great tiny shops and galleries and the place they call Domino Park in the hub and energy centre and is worth walking by.

Things

I’m certainly not a beach guy but the Brickell area downtown (yeah, same street we saw in Irma coverage) is quite cool and Perricone’s for Italian would be the must. The Cuban district not too far away, closer to the ballpark, and it is great for legit Cuban sandwiches, which you really should try.

Of course, Mike’s, great divey bar on 9th floor of condo building right next to Biscayne Bay Marriott, totally a local place, if you count some of the older NBA refs as locals because you might run into one or two there.

Tee high end, of course, is Joe’s Stone Crab on South Beach – but only when crab’s in season, please – and Eric Koreen knows this Haitian place, Tap Tap, that was great meal one night last season.

Orlando

They’ve made the airport that’s always crowded work as well as they can but it’s a terribly spread out city with choking traffic on the I-4 and simply getting around from one end othe other is tough. And since I have spent zero time at any of the theme parks or what have you, all I can say is happy driving and happy waiting in line because you’ll be doing a lot of it.

Culture/history

Yeah, right.

Seriously, there might be some – I am sure there is – but if you’re me and you’re in and out maybe twice a year and want nothing to do with Disney, it’s hard to imagine what it is. Maybe there’s a strip mall or outlet shopping centre museum somewhere. But as for stuff I’d recommend, I’ve got nothing. Sorry, Orlando.

The rest

The arena’s great and there are a few places within an easy walk – don’t really have a favourite – but the Church Street district offers a wide variety. I don’t think the bar where Charles Barkley threw the guy out of the second floor window is still open but the sushi place is really good.

We did one time stay the Marriott World Resort out by Disney and it led us to the back of the theme park and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant I remember being great.

Two quick notes:

We’ll back with the usual fare tomorrow and Thursday as I try to get myself back into the rhythm of a season that gets under way a week today.

And I used to have a lot of fun watching the grappling every now and then and of all the characters that created, none were better than Bobby (The Brain) Heenan, who died yesterday. He was, quite simply, a classic. RIP.

Hang on.

Rolling Stone’s for sale?

Will this stop being a thing?

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