Mayo's Big Adventure
By: Lorne Chan Spurs.com
Editors Note: Spurs.com is looking back and celebrating some special moments and personalities from this past season, and can't wait to create new memories this upcoming season.
When he met Manu Ginobili and got an autograph, Mayo Isshiki, a train conductor from Japan, let out an exclamation that Bill Land taught him just a few minutes before.
Isshiki came from Kansai, Japan to San Antonio last week to see the Spurs play against the Lakers. He arrived in San Antonio on Friday afternoon and left early on Saturday morning. Traveling about 14,000 miles for a stay of fewer than 18 hours, Isshiki made the most of the trip.
He was named a Wing Stop Co-Captain of the game, going on court for player introductions. Isshiki got a chance to meet Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Spurs fans from Australia, China and every corner of the world have made their way to the AT&T Center, and the international reach of basketball was apparent last week as Parker and Isshiki shook hands. A French basketball player meeting a Japanese fan in San Antonio, Texas.
“The Spurs are an international team with a lot of international fans, too,” Isshiki said through a translator. “I’m so happy to be a part of that and cheering them on.”
He took in some local landmarks, checking out the Alamo and the 55-foot Spurs themed Christmas tree outside the building.
The next stop was Paris hatters, where he tried on a few cowboy hats. While trying on the hat, Mayo Isshiki tried to say “Yee-Haw.” After 14 tries, he got the pronunciation down.
On his first attempt of “Go Spurs Go!” Mayo nailed it.
But Isshiki didn’t come all this way to try on a hat.
When he arrived at the AT&T Center, he let out a scream of joy.
“My feelings for the Spurs are so strong that I have to support them by coming here,” Isshiki said. “I really love the Spurs.”
Whether it’s a pair of jeans, a favorite burger or the newest Taylor Swift single, almost any piece of American culture is available in Japan these days.
It even applies to basketball, where NBA games are streamed live to a fast-growing audience watching games with their lunch.
For Isshiki though, nothing compares to seeing the Spurs live. And the AT&T Center is the only place for that experience.
Last week’s trip was Isshiki’s second to San Antonio and definitely not his last, he said.
“I’m just so overwhelmed and thankful to be here,” Isshiki said. “Great trip.”