It is unfortunately the last full day here in China. Being here in China I have really enjoyed being a part of the NBA Cares Charity Games and giving back to the people of Chengdu. With that said, I was hoping the sun would finally come out, but it proved to stay away again. Today was a shopping day as well as our second and final game against Chinese power Aoshen. Also, the driving here in China has to be one of the most terrifying experiences I may ever go through in my lifetime.
Springfield’s Kyle McAlarney, Fort Wayne’s Ryan Ayers and I ventured out of the hotel and walked the streets of Chengdu, China, in search of some stuff to bring back home. Kyle Mac, for whatever reason, was in search of a Nike sweatsuit of some sort. Seriously. I told him he can find one just about anywhere back in the states, but Kyle Mac was on a mission and they are so cheap here you can’t blame him. Mr. Ayers was on the search for Louis Vuitton and was successful by finding a wallet. I purchased a Chinese brand sports coat along with a painting of my name in Chinese lettering in a frame. All of the shopping here in China is very inexpensive and after all of the per diem we received on this trip, you almost had to buy some Chinese merchandise.
Back to the driving in China - It is a nightmare and is something I hope to never experience again in my life. When on the road, it feels like an accident is always waiting to happen so I was scared for my life every second. I couldn’t even bare to look out the window because I felt like we were about to get hit by another car, bike, or scooter.
Bikes and scooters are everywhere here in China and these people are just as much to blame for the dangerous driving conditions. The city of Chengdu where we are staying has a population of 10.5 MILLION people and explains why there is traffic at all times - It is a free for all on the roads and people won’t stop for nothing. There is no such thing as yielding to pedestrians and I would have to say that the drivers here should be the highest paid people in the country because your life is at risk at all times.
Now to the basketball:
In the second game and final game against Aoshen tonight, it was a night to forget and didn’t go according to plan as we lost by ten points. The atmosphere again was electric even thought the arena might have been half empty. To see all the fans (who have been through so much while dealing with the recovery of these earthquakes) smile and have some fun was well worth the trip for me. Heck, even Clyde "The Glide" Drexler was sitting VIP courtside for this game as he is traveling the world doing events for the NBA.
After the game every player had the option of going shopping or going to eat at a local place here in Chengdu. I choose against the shopping and for the dinner. We had about an hour to spare and, like I always do after a game, I got into a cold tub to help my body recover. What a great decision this would be. Kyle Mac and I met down at the spa area/cold tub and none other than Chris Mullin was there as well. Being able to talk basketball with Mullin and choosing to not shop might have been the best decision I made the entire trip.
The entire team, New Jersey Nets Dancers, and all NBA/ NBA China staff of about thirty of us went out to eat at a local restaurant here Chengdu. It was a chance to experience a traditional Chinese dinner on this night. I am allergic to just about everything - and Chinese food isn’t exactly the food that I can tolerate. I knew coming in I probably would not be eating anything but wanted to experience it anyways.
Robert Horry to the rescue! I sat next to him at dinner and once I told him about my allergies he went and got the person in charge to make me a special dish. I eventually got some plain rice and chicken, all thanks to Big Shot Rob.
Special thanks goes out to all the NBA/NBA China staff that made this happen. It was a unbelievable experience in China and a great time to be with everyone that was a part of this.
It Seems like I have been in China forever but then again it has gone by too fast. Not looking forward to another long day of airports and airplanes. Lots of movies and reading traveling all day back to the states…
Talk to you soon…