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Road to Rome

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff  September 29, 2007 12:34 PM

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One of the benefits of being a sports writer is on occasion you get to take some really cool work trips abroad. Since 1999, I’ve been to Stockholm, Sweden, Monterrey and Chihuahua, Mexico, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, Sarajevo and Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Incirlik, Turkey and Naples, Italy for sports writing assignments. And with the Celtics having training camp in Rome and London beginning Sunday through Oct. 11, I will add those two places to the list as well.

I’ve actually been to London before on vacation and yearned to go to Rome after being in awe of the Coliseum when I saw it from the airplane window during a stop in the Rome airport. ESPN the Magazine NBA writer and good friend Chris Broussard and I were on the same flight late Friday night on Lufthansa as we departed to Rome through Frankfurt, Germany. Flights to Europe are definitely a reminder of what it was like pre-9-11. We used stainless steel utensils to eat with, they fed us quality meals and we were given hot towels to wash our hands. And this was in coach. Remember those days? The total trip took about 8 hours and since I was able to sleep on both flights I feel pretty good right now. I must say the Frankfort airport was a little strange as employees rode around using bicycles. A woman I bought a salami sandwich from also had no idea what mustard was when I asked for it.

I’m staying at a hotel in the heart of Rome that is about a 15-minute walk to the Coliseum and not too far from all the other tourist attractions in town. I’m not a big Italian food fan, but Italian food at its best is here so I will definitely be a fan of it here.

Oh yeah, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said during Media Day on Friday that he wasn’t too fond of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen being nicknamed “The Big Three” since he thought it disrespected the legendary Celtics trio of the ’80s of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. I actually came up with a nickname that Doc seemed to like for the new Celtics stars in "The GAP Band." The name is taken from the old soul group that was big in the ’80s and the GAP is short for Garnett-Allen-Pierce. What do you think?

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