Five time Leigh Matthews Trophy winner, Gary Ablett, discusses his ultimate sports fantasy and why he’s already on-board for the upcoming AFL ‘players only’ tour.
I love my American sport, especially when it comes to NBA. It’s almost a bit of release away from football and it’s important to have those passions away from the game.
I always try and catch an NBA, NFL or Baseball game depending on the time of year when I head over to America, which I have a few times now.
My favourite place in the world would have to be New York, which I’ve really loved visiting a handful of times now. If I get enough time, I like to go there for two or three weeks at the end of the season and explore the city.
The first time I went to New York, I was there for 10 days and did all the touristy things but when I was leaving I felt like I could easily spend another two or three weeks there – there’s so much I wanted to see.
Every time I’ve visited since, I’ve found something I hadn’t seen before. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to plan too much, organising sporting tickets has to be done as soon as possible, but outside of that I usually organise things as I get over there.
New York is one of those places where you don’t have to organise anything, you just walk out the front door and walk around in the streets and experience the culture, it’s an amazing city.
I’ve followed the NBA for a while now. My team is the Cleveland Cav’s and I’m a big LeBron James fan, and have followed him from Miami and back to Cleveland.
So the ultimate sports fantasy for me would have to be my favoruite player in my favourite city. Sitting court side watching LeBron alongside his Cavs teammates playing at Madison Square Garden would be unreal.
Going along and watching some of the NBA’s stars on game day and watching how they put it together on the court is obviously a great spectacle. Something I love about LeBron James is how he’s able to play at a high level every single game.
The sign of a true champion is someone who performs each game and LeBron has done that throughout his whole career.
Obviously, I don’t get to see what he, and other NBA stars, put into their games on a day-to-day basis but that sort of insight would be valuable because, as an AFL footballer, there’s so many things I can learn from him.
This is what Hype Tours wants to bring to life.
The tour is about getting there, watching some sport and following some NBA games but we’re going to sit down with players, trainers and coaches and hear about what they go through from day-to-day. MVP winners Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Shaquille O’Neal have personally committed to closed group sessions to give us insights into their careers. There will also be some cool NFL experiences which will be interesting to compare with our game too.
The NBA is so different to our sport, we play once a week but they travel every second or third day, which would be challenging especially when it comes to family.
Learning what they put into training and preparation are things I will be able to take and implement myself, which hopefully helps me improve.
I’m looking forward to going along. There’s obviously time to bond with the people you’re with but you learn so much about other sporting landscapes as well.
It’s going to be a fun trip.
Gary Ablett is participating in an upcoming custom built AFL off-season trip, exclusive for AFL players, called the Hearts of Champions tour.
Players can reserve a place or register interest to stay updated via the Hearts of Champions tour page. To help players plan accordingly, deposits are refundable until late August once the final tour itinerary is available.