DKV Joventut (or simply La Penya) does not play in Barcelona but in nearby Badalona. They play at the old Olympic gym located near the Gorg Metro stop, on the L2(purple) line. It's hard to picture a top D-1 team, let alone the original Dream Team, playing at this grafittied, corragated steel canister. Getting tickets (25-30 € each) is as simple as showing up 1-2 hours before gametime and waiting in line at the ticket counter. The ticket counter, which accepts cash, is to the right of the main entrance. The windows to the left of the main entrance seem to be for will call tickets purchased online.
We saw the Dec. 28th game against Baloncesto Fuenlabrada, featuring Alaskan Brad Oleson and a still invisible Nicholas Tskitishvili. Entering the stadium, it becomes difficult not to keel over and writhe on the floor in pain at the greatest cultural difference between a game in Spain and the US: no alcohol is served. The club seems to be more than happy to make its money from the relatively hefty admission -- merch and food sales are really at a minimum. So after picking up a popcorn and a San Miguel 0,0 we took our seats and watched the game. And yes, there is a dance team.Bon Nadal, indeed. The game itself has a few notable differences than what we're used to:
- The dusty court leaves the players sliding around like they are in a rec-center in June. We think there are may be more people cleaning the sidewalks outside than a court in which millions of invested €'s compete.
- For all the talk of the 'Euro two-step', the crowd is quick to stand and call for a traveling violation when the ref neglects to. Meanwhile, in the NBA, LeBron can calmly explain why he should be allowed to take three steps.
- La Penya's answer to Thundersticks are nasal sounding plastic horns favored by fans young and old. If you are a sensitive soul bring earplugs and aspirin -- you are going to find out what it is like to spend 2 hours inside a bagpipe.
- Besides having the beverage menu written with the former(!) President in mind, hooliganophobia also manifests itself at the end of halves. A shielded tunnel wheels onto the court while the players are escorted off by police in riot gear.
Unfortunately, Rubio was never even given the opportunity to create fast break magic -- he was intentionally fouled every time he received a quick outlet pass. In the half court he was able to get assists and layups often, and when ably defended showed a Ginobili-esque knack to jerk his head back quickly -- this delighted the referee's whistle like nothing else. When he and LeBron are playing for D'Antoni in 2010, the Knicks will be quite the unstoppable force. "Hi, I'm Mike Tirico, and this is the only team that ABC will ever be showing!"