The NBA of the 21st-century offers fans a more candid look at the players and the product than nearly any other era of the game. Fans can see what a player does before the game, during the game, and after the game thanks to social media and expanded television coverage. One aspect of the NBA that might remain a mystery to fans, however, is how NBA teams travel to every game.
NBA players travel across the country, but those who are not in the know may not know what this entails as they do so.
Home games allow the players to get to where they need to be on their own. Players might arrive in fancy cars or beat-up old ones, depending on is driving. In bigger markets, a player might take more extreme measures to get to the game. Kobe Bryant reportedly took a helicopter to some games to avoid the traffic down below. When you make eight-figures a year, the options are endless.
Home games supply the players with a proper routine that allows them to get to every game at the same time and do everything they need in the comfort of home. Because of this, the home-court advantage doesn’t just apply to crowd noise and location. The entire lead-up to the game is different than a road trip.
How do NBA teams travel to away games?
The NBA may be full of high-flyers, but this doesn’t mean they can take off in Sacramento and land in New York. In prior eras, players had to wait in airports and fly commercially unless their owners had another way to do so.
Now, chartering private jets to get from point A to point B is the norm, and the jets come decked out in luxury that is made for these larger-than-life people aboard.
The Sacramento Kings, for example, recently rented a private jet that is owned by rap superstar Drake as they traveled overseas to India. The plane, called “Air Drake,” is filled with custom features that reportedly cost the rapper $185M.
It is a Boeing 767, but a look inside shows that this is no passenger liner. The plane is filled with lounge seats and tables where the players could stretch their legs and relax instead of a squeeze behind seats that people two-feet-smaller than them struggle to fit in.
While other planes may not be quite as fancy, the planes that the players are taking to games are nicer than a commercial flight, and owners are expected to get them to every game in style.
Food and comfort
While the owners are the ones who are supposed to get players around the country, their responsibility does not end there. Players need to eat, and while they all can afford to eat on the road, the team is the one who supplies the funds for meals.
Certainly, if a player wanted to live the high-life and eat at a fine-dining establishment they could go out of pocket, but stingier players can stretch their $133 per diem to not only help feed them but get some pocket money, as well.
Owners also provide the lodging for the players, and this means putting them in four and five-star hotels. With one of the greatest unions in the world behind them, players have ensured that even when they are on the road in a grueling schedule, they are afforded every luxury within reason.
Not only do their hotels meet this, but players who need to get to the game are also afforded luxury buses or other vehicles to help get them there in style.
Life on the road for an NBA player can be tough, but with chartered flights, nice hotels, and even a little bit of lunch money to hold them over, the road life in the NBA has some perks. And in the end, all of the expenses fall in the lap of the owners, not that most of them have any trouble paying.