Below is another video from Yao Ming’s recent trip back to China where several NBA players who are clients of BDA Sports (Yao is affiliated with BDA as well) traveled to Beijing and Taipei to play in two different charity games for Yao’s Foundation.
You’ll see footage of many of the players arriving for their first practice in a nearby training facility. It wasn’t as much of a practice to learn set plays to run against the Chinese as it was a workout to keep them in shape. Throughout the entire trip, I got the feeling that all of the players weren’t worrying about the competition they would be facing. They knew how good they were even if they had never played with each other before. These guys came over here to help Yao with his foundation, get some good workouts in and stay motivated with other NBA players around them, and if they got some exposure in front of tens of millions of Chinese fans along the way, that would be nice, too. I never got the feeling these guys didn’t think they would win. That’s not a slam against Chinese basketball. It’s a testament to how good basketball still is in the U.S.
I loved watching all the drills these guys went through to stay in shape. Even though they’re pros, they were probably going through some of the same drills that high schoolers go through, but doing it much, much better. You’ll see Houston’s own Chase Budinger showing that even though he doesn’t have much of a chance to showcase his dribbling skills in the Rockets’ offense, he can handle the rock. And Baron Davis and Brandon Jennings showed why they are great handling the ball and taking it to the rack: they practice it over and over. I also was impressed with Amir Johnson‘s and Dajuan Summers‘ athleticism. Hasheem Thabeet was even participating in the dribbling drills, which doesn’t seem fair for a 7-footer who never has to dribble in a real game. So don’t be too hard on him since he was trying. But overall, I could have watched these guys practice all day.
Later in the video you’ll see the players in the locker room at the Beijing facility. They were even taking in all the atmosphere of the locker room because it had nowhere near luxury they’re probably accustomed to seeing in the U.S. It was pretty bare bones. After entering, they were taking photos and videotaping for themselves the spartan accommodations. Not that they were complaining. It was just very different.
You’ll see Yao enter the locker room where he greets Aaron Brooks for the first time in China. Aaron arrived in Beijing the night before (after the previous day’s practice) since he had some other commitments in China. Aaron isn’t represented by BDA, but because he was going to be in China anyway, it made sense for him to play in Yao’s charity games and help his big man out. And don’t forget that Yao showed up at Brooks’ basketball camp at Rice University a few weeks earlier.
Near the end of the video, you’ll get a glimpse of the pre-game entertainment featuring Beijing cheerleaders. They are very different from the dancers you’d see in the U.S. (so be kind, guys). But what I thought was cool is that the NBA players wanted to take in the atmosphere of Chinese entertainment at a basketball game just as much as anyone, so they sat on the bench and watched the performances, too. That’s something you would rarely see at an NBA game where they have to be focused on winning and want to demonstrate they aren’t easily distracted. Not in Beijing, which was cool to see. They are fans of another country’s entertainment, too.
Finally, you’ll see Yao get introduced to the crowd, who receives huge applause as he strides onto the court to welcome everyone to his charity game. I always love hearing the reaction among Chinese when Yao is introducted to them, or enters a room. It’s electric and I never get tired of it.
Then the NBA players get introduced, and most of them are asked to walk out on the court holding the hands of a Chinese child, which was cute to see. What I edited from this video was the fact they had to stand there a pretty long time as the pre-game introductions and festivities continued, something they’re not accustomed to going through. But they were troopers doing what the Chinese organizers asked them to do.
That’s where the video ends, but part 2 is coming over the coming days, so stay tuned for that. You’ll see even more entertainment from the game that was one of my favorite memories from the trip.