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Vinicius Jr. Pays Visit To Best Cities In America, Also Los Angeles

1:26 PM EST on December 27, 2023

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 21: Vinicius Junior attends the Oklahoma City Thunder game against the LA Clippers on December 21, 2023 at Paycom Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

When the 22 million-odd tourists who visit the United States every year come to our shores, there are a few destinations on everyone's mind: Oklahoma City, Sacramento, maybe a few other places, but mostly the capital cities of Oklahoma and California. Certainly nothing east of the Mississippi. Case in point: Brazilian soccer megastar Vinicius Jr. has a few weeks off from work, so he's spending his winter break hitting the hottest spots in North America, beginning of course in beautiful Oklahoma City, an attraction that boasts "plenty of hustle without all the hassle."

On the same day his Real Madrid teammates beat Alaves in league play (Vinicius has been out with a hamstring injury since November), he sat court side for Clippers-Thunder and watched his apparently close personal friend Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drop 31-8-4. Maybe he mentioned that time Real Madrid's basketball team beat the Thunder in a preseason game seven years ago.

Fresh off becoming the first person from Madrid to go to Oklahoma City on purpose, Vinicius then continued to make tourism history by becoming the first non-NBA player to travel from Oklahoma City to Sacramento for fun. There isn't a direct flight from Madrid to OKC, nor is there one between OKC and Sacramento, and yet there he was, sitting courtside next to Vlade Divac at Suns-Kings. He got to see Domantas Sabonis, who was on that Thunder team that lost to Real Madrid, put up a crisp 28-11-11 triple-double on 12-for-15 shooting. It's not clear whether or not he went out after, though of course Sacramento ("America's Farm-To-Fork Capital") has a rich local culture and a lot of good places to eat.

Apparently if you love basketball enough, you will even settle for enjoying some hoops in non-premier American cities. The very next day, Vinicius did the I-5 shuffle and moseyed on down to Los Angeles to see the Clippers get completely demolished by the Celtics, a process that was probably kind of a letdown after his whirlwind time in OKC and Sacramento. But every vacation needs to balance its thrills with moments of relaxation, and surely watching Neemias Queta, basketball's top Lusophone, put up 14-12 in 23 minutes was a soothing experience. There wasn't any basketball on Christmas Eve, so we don't know what he got up to, but his ass was back at it on Christmas Day. Neemias Queta didn't score that day, sadly.

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