When he agreed to host this week’s World of Basket Camp in Spain, Melo knew exactly what he was doing. Not only is he getting the opportunity to train 700 aspiring hoopers, he’s taking a first-class tour of one of Europe’s most charming cultures. We asked Chet Fiedler to keep SLAM posted on Carmelo’s hereabouts during his five days in Spain. Chet kindly obliged and is sending daily essays and photos from across the pond. The images are a “can’t-miss.” So hit the button below before reading on!–Ed.
by Chet Fiedler
After a full day of travel from the states, Melo landed in Malaga, Spain at 10 a.m. local time, 2 a.m. Denver time. Being his first trip to the country, he was ready to get into some local life and culture. Malaga, unlike the metropolitan Barcelona to the east, is known as a “chilled out” port town, and perhaps most notably as the birthplace of Picasso.
Although he came to participate as host of the Bancaja World of Basket Camp, his commitments didn’t start until the following day. “I wanna get a bike,” he said within minutes of stepping off the plane. Quickly, the local host Jacinto Castillo (who spent many years working as an NBA scout in Europe) advised Carmelo that it may not be the best idea for him to be riding a bike through the city’s traffic. He accepted the advice, but after checking into his hotel and preparing to leave for a nearby lunch spot, he preferred to walk, rather than get into one of the Nissan SUV’s designated as his chauffer vehicle. Melo wanted to get in the city, not just watch it pass by.
So he walked with a group of friends, family and Spanish hosts and passed through the narrow streets of old Malaga. Within minutes he was snapping pictures of the massive Malaga Cathedral (Iglesia Catedral de la Encarnacion). Shortly after, he stopped at a postcard stand, “I wanna see this Cathedral,” he said pulling the card from the rack, then began laughing as he realized he had just seen it, and taken pictures of it from a different angle, catching only part of it from his street level view.
Passing by a fresh fruit stand, he stopped again, getting some of the local produce before continuing to lunch where he enjoyed his first glass of Spanish wine, which he admits is some of the best in the world. Finishing lunch, he headed back to the hotel to get a bit of rest before heading 45 minutes south to the beach resort town Marbella where he would be the guest of honor for the launch of DT Magazine’s July/August issue on which he will grace the cover.
Melo arrived at the dinner and cocktail party, and the Mayor of Marbella herself greeted him along with a group of press and some of “the most important people in the city,” as one local Spaniard put it. “I’m really enjoying my first time in Spain and look forward to doing as much as I can in the next few days,” he would say to the media. On his thoughts of the upcoming NBA season, “We are going to pick up where we left off.”
After the meet and greets and media interviews he got to relax. He spent the rest of the evening with friends and chatting with locals, enjoying the food and drink of Spain before moving the party on to the world famous Nikki Beach.
He hadn’t even been in Spain for 12 hours before he started listing the things he wanted to do in the following days: “I wanna go fishing, I wanna go wine tasting, I wanna take a boat across the Mediterranean to Morocco, I wanna see a bull fight.”