Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Turkey, Day One

A fun look at the country we know and love from a visiting basketball columnist's first trip here.

"Twenty-six hours, 5,365 miles; one never-ending plane ride from JFK to Istanbul; one small mishap in the largest mosque in Turkey; one ferry across the Sea of Marmara; and a harrowing drive through the winding streets of Turkey that could've passed for a Disney thrill ride. Two hours too late."

"I'm not sure I should know this firsthand. When we arrived at the mosque, there was a sign stating clearly in seven languages that foreigners weren't allowed inside at the time. Ercevik was undeterred. He haggled with a guard armed with an AK-47 for a while, then I was invited in."

"I've complained about the driving in Serbia, Israel and Italy, but nothing tops what I saw in Turkey. Most of the roads are barely wide enough for two cars going in opposite directions. Turkish drivers turn a marginal two-lane road into a four-lane road. Medians are ignored; sidewalks are passing lanes. I've yet to see a car in Istanbul without a major dent or damage. It's like being in a full-time demolition derby."

"The gym is hot and smells of a Speed Stick-deprived society. It's decorated with red and white balloons all bearing the familiar symbol of Turkish power – the crescent and the star.

The place is full, the crowd deafening. The chanting borders on ritual, as fans on both sides of the fence taunt and challenge each other."
ESPN.com - NBA - Ford: Turkey, Day One

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