The Art of ... An Extended Road Trip
After opening with a pair of games at the cozy confines of The Q, the Cavaliers hit the road for a six-game, 12-day trip through three time zones and two Conferences.
There’s an art to thriving and surviving on the road in the NBA. The amenities are top-shelf, but 41 games in five months can still be a grind.
We asked one of the Cavaliers’ grizzled veterans – Daniel Gibson – what it’s like out on the open road and how his young teammates will react to their first prolonged junket as today we study The Art of … An Extended Road Trip.
What’s the one “thing” you miss most when you’re on the road?
Daniel Gibson: I miss my basement. Because I have a three-TV set-up down there where I can watch different games. I might put a TV show down here and two games up at the top. But I’d definitely say my basement. That’s like my ‘man-cave.’
Is there one object that you never leave home without?
Gibson: I have, like, a little keychain with D.J. and Keyshia on it. I make sure I gotta travel with that.
How often do you iChat with your family?
Gibson: Til D.J. goes to bed. And a lot of times even with Key, we’ll all go to sleep together. I’ll put the computer on that side of the bed. We try to make it like we’re still at home. We put the whole family thing together. We try our best to take the easy road, but we don’t cut any corners.
Is it difficult to balance some sort of social life and still get your rest on the road?
Gibson: More so if you’re going home or going to a city nearby (your hometown). There’s people hassling you about tickets, wanting to come over and see you – stuff like that. It makes it tough.
But normally, I just lay low. Like if I’m in a city, I’ll just sleep all day. If we’re in a city with some nice shopping, I might head out for a little bit. But mostly, I just hide out.
Have you always been like that?
Gibson: When I was younger, I wanted to get out and be out and about and see what was going on. But the older you get, you kinda already know what to expect in each city – where to go, best places to eat, that kinda stuff.
Have you ever had a VISA/passport/Canadian border snafu when the team heads to Toronto?
Gibson: Yes, I have forgotten my passport. But (Cavs head of security) ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Cross came through!
I went through the whole process. I had to get my passport all over again. I want to say I misplaced it, like, two or three days before (the trip). But Marvin made me bring my I.D. and my birth certificate – the whole nine yards. I ended up making it. I shouldn’t have made it! But I owe it all to Marvelous Marv.
What’s your favorite stop west of the Mississippi?
Gibson: I literally fell in love with the city of Los Angeles.
During my rehab, I was out there – forced to be out there. At first, I really didn’t like LA. And I really grew to love it. Like Santa Monica, right by the beach. I worked out in Pepperdine. Working out in L.A. really helped my recovery process a lot, because it gave me something to do – like when I would do my beach walk for my ankle, walking in the sand. That’s a great way to rehab! The water, the waves.
L.A. can be overwhelming. I think it’s more or less the fear of just so there being too many people. I’m a country boy and I prefer it slow, but it’s not really that fast once you’re out there.
What’s particularly satisfying about winning on the road?
Gibson: From my experience, it’s become a lot of fun. Because when you get out there, you might have one or two fans out there. So when you’re scoring or you’re going on a run, it’s just you guys and you can hear the fans, and they’re against you, it’s a fun experience. And it’s an experience where you become closer as a team – because you’re basically all you got out there.
I think it’ll be a great experience for our young guys. It helps you grow up – FAST.
How will the young guys handle their first trip?
Gibson: We’re going to get out there, I’m sure they’re gonna be homesick. Every day you’re gonna be ready to come back. But when you get out there, you realize you’ve got business at hand and you see it’s just you guys versus the whole arena. You make a play and the silence that comes over the gym – that feeling is great.
What travel mistakes will the rookies make?
Gibson: They’ll probably under-pack. They’ll forget belts, socks, drawers. That’s the road I went down. I missed all that. I under-packed my rookie year, then I over-packed the next year. So I was lugging these big bags around.
And I’m pretty sure they’ll mess up their gameday (on Friday) – trying to pack and get everything done (Friday) even though we told them (Thursday) to make sure they got it done last night.
When we get to OKC and Brooklyn towards the end, they’ll start to feel the trip and start wishing they could get back to their own bed.
Do the rookie initiation rules still apply on the road?
Gibson: Oh yeah! They’re our personal assistants – they’re on-call 24 hours a day. If we’re in a room and we need something – especially Dion; Dion’s my personal assistant. This is his first road trip and I’m gonna get him real good. Three o’clock in the morning, I’m gonna get him to go get me some ice or something.
If you need something and don’t feel like leaving your room, Tyler and Dion will go out and get us anything we need.
When does a long trip start to wear on you a bit?
Gibson: Normally, like if you’re on a 12-day trip, like what we’re going on, it’s typically the last two games. You start thinking: ‘Alright, when’s my bed coming?’ You’ll be dying to sleep in your own bed and eat your own food and just walk around your own house. Space is key. The hotel rooms on the road are first-class, but after a while, the walls start closing in on you.
What’s the best part about getting home?
Gibson: Seeing my family, for sure! When I get home, we have a day – chasing him around the house or whatever it is. Just something to let him know that daddy’s home.
It’s the same with my wife. That first day back is great. It’s just all family – family fun-day.
You’re still a little tired from the road trip, but I still make sure I build up enough energy for D.J. And he’s waiting, too! His favorite line is: “I’m gonna get you, daddy!” Then he just takes off running around the place. It’s the best.