by Deron Williams, October 12, 2011
After a hectic start to our journey, things are starting to get more cozy here in Istanbul.
I did a lot of traveling when I first got here, but recently the team has had mostly home games and it's given me a chance to take in the culture and become more acquainted with Turkey.
I think learning the culture has been my favorite part of being here so far. I've been trying to learn a few different words every day and I've tried a lot of different foods. Most of the food has been really great.
Pretty much everything about the culture is great, except the smoking. Everywhere you go people are smoking. All day, every day. It seems like 90 percent of Istanbul smokes. It's crazy. But what's funny is they blur smoking out on television.
We have this cable called Digiturk and it has maybe 10 or 12 American channels —TNT, Disney, Nickelodeon, stuff like that. I was watching it the other day, the A-Team was on, and they blurred out the cigars that they were smoking. Whenever people are smoking on TV, they blur it out. I was like "Are you serious?" That was kind of a weird thing to me because it seems to me like smoking is a big part of their culture.
The other thing that caught me a little off guard is the driving. It's pretty crazy over here. I'm not going to say there are no rules, but the people don't really abide by them. It's just organized chaos. When people cut other people off, it's almost expected.
In New York, or most places in America for that matter, you'd be getting cussed out and honked at. People don't have the patience for that at home. But over here, it's kind of like you're expected to let people just go out in the middle of the road, cut you off and block you for a second. It's certainly an adjustment for me.
Along with the TV, I have seen plenty of things here that I'd associate with America, but there's some stuff that I definitely miss.
This was my first time moving overseas and I wasn't smart about it. I thought I brought a lot of stuff, but when we got here, I realized it wasn't as much as I thought. We had 16 bags for six people, so I guess that's not really a lot when you consider I could be over here for nine months if the NBA season gets locked out completely.
So I asked my American teammates how many bags they brought when they came over. All of them said about four bags. That seemed about right. But they only brought two bags of clothes. The rest was that American stuff that you can't get over here. Their favorite deodorant, those snacks they like that aren't available here, kind of like a survival bag. Looking back that probably would've been smart to do.
We found a website where you can order stuff from, but it's really hard to ship to Turkey just because of their taxes and their laws, I guess. So we're still trying to figure out how we're going to do it.
The one thing I'm really missing is these peanut butter filled pretzels I used to get from Costco. That's like my snack of choice. I'm gonna figure out how to get them over here. My agent Jeff is coming over here soon, so I might have him grab some for me. I also need to find some thicker ice bags. Their ice bags here are really thin and they bust open every time I wrap them on. That's not good when you're trying to ice after a game.
I'm gonna have to buy a new Xbox because I think I blew mine up.
I'm not even getting the wheel or anything. As soon as I plugged it in, it sparked and it hasn't come on. So I'm probably gonna have to grab a new one, but it hasn't been easy to find one. I haven't seen any of them, actually, since I got here. But I heard they're pretty expensive.
I was looking at PS3's and they cost like 930 Turkish Lira, which is like 500 bucks and I know that's more than what it is in the States. A lot of stuff is more expensive here. It seems like some things are almost double the cost.
I have a guy that has been showing me around the city and I've been asking him questions and I was talking to him about cars the other day. He asked me how much they cost in the United States, then he told me a Ferrari here is like 500,000 Euros, which is more than dollars, of course. I don't know if it's taxes or how much it costs to import it, but that kind of blew me away.
The only big purchases we've made since we got here were for the baby. You can't really bring a crib or a jumper, some of those bigger baby things, so we made a lot of purchases at the baby store. But other than that, we've been going with what we brought so far.
BLACK AND GOLD
One other thing I miss about home is watching my Pittsburgh Steelers play.
I've been a big Steelers fan for pretty much my whole life and I don't get a chance to see them play out here because most of the games are played when I'm sleeping at 3-4 a.m.
I was looking forward to being in New York and being close enough where I could take a quick flight to Pittsburgh for a game. I haven't ever seen a Steelers game live in Pittsburgh.
I've been to one Steelers game in my life, when I was growing up. They played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving one year in Dallas and my mom took me to the game. Since then I've never had the chance to go to any Steelers games. I've been to more Cowboys games and I don't even like them.
But while I'm here I'm left to check the scores online and see how they did.
I've been going online a lot to stay in step with what's going on back home.
I'm following the lockout as best I can over here, but my resources are somewhat limited. I've been in touch with my agent about it and I've read some stuff on the Internet, but that's pretty much all I can do.
I think everybody, owners and players, know that it would be detrimental to the game for us not to have a season. Whether we miss a couple games or a month, two months, that's up in the air, but I hope there's a season.
Hopefully the lockout gets resolved soon and we can get back to it. Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants an NBA season. I'm sure the Besiktas fans would rather me stay here, but I know everyone over in the U.S. wants a season and I feel the same way.