Our second day in Beijing consisted of breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by a 9:15 a.m. sightseeing� tour of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We had a tour guide talk to us about all of the history. It was a great experience and everyone enjoyed the tour despite the continual rainfall.
Steve Nash poses for a picture with� Jackie Chan at a charity game in China. (Aaron Nelson/Suns Photos)
A visit to the Great Wall was scheduled but had to be cancelled due to poor weather and a long ride (two hours each way). The tour lasted a couple of hours and we then returned to the hotel to grab lunch and get ready for practice.
We left for practice at 2 p.m. Our workouts were held at an academy for the Chinese National Teams (all sports). It would be similar to the USOC Training Centers in the US, but their athletes will come to live in the dorms (some at a very young age) to prepare themselves to win an Olympic medal. Practice lasted about two hours and consisted of stretching/warm-up, shooting drills, some offense strategies, and finally a one-on-one game among several of the players (video footage to come). Baron Davis and Steve had a great battle, with Carmelo jumping in at the end.
We arrived back at the hotel around 4:30 and had a 6 p.m. bus to the Yao/Nash Charity Gala. The Gala consisted of dinner (local cuisine), a variety of entertainment, a live auction, and introduction of the players from both teams. The event raised a couple million dollars (US) and with the actual game the next night, raised just about $3 million.
Several Chinese stars were in attendance, although no one I recognized beyond the players. It was really funny to see several of our players nodding off toward the end of the event, including myself. It wasn’t because of boredom, but rather a combination of things that left us somewhat sleep deprived.
Following the Gala, we all went back to the hotel and went to bed. No nightlife on this night because everyone finally hit the wall with the time change, no naps, and a late night the night prior.
The next morning, we had an 8 a.m. breakfast in which I met Steve and LB. We had a bus leaving at 9 a.m. for a joint shoot around/practice with the Chinese National Team. The practice lasted about an hour and we headed back to the hotel to shower and leave for a noon team lunch at one of the nicest restaurants in China called LAN. LAN is a $52 million dollar establishment with about 50,000 square feet. It consisted of various rooms with different themes. LAN was designed by a famous French designer, although I can’t recall his name. Lunch consisted of a 10-course meal and although I didn’t partake in every course, I was stuffed!
After lunch, we had about an hour and a half to get ready before our 5:30 p.m. bus to the game. You may have heard, but traffic in China is beyond ridiculous. I have seen LA, Houston, and New York traffic, but nothing like this! Even city buses were so crammed, it looked as though individuals barely had enough room to breathe. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the venue. The game was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. but obviously started much later since we arrived there at 7:15pm. I got everyone taped and off they went for the start of the game. Movie star Jackie Chan threw up the honorary jump ball. The game consisted of two 10-minute quarters between the two teams followed by a quarter in which Steve played for the Chinese team and one of their players, Sun, played for our team. The last quarter consisted of mixed squads from both teams. Needless to say, there was no real winner. The Nash All-Stars trailed by three points at the end of the two quarters, but we never played a regular second half.
Following the game, we jumped back on the bus which took us to a private post party hosted by the NBA for everyone from the event. That turned things into another long night, but we all had fun!
One more day and it is off to the USA!