I must begin with an apology for a summer-long neglect of blogging, but I am going to fall back on the excuse of being too busy. My wife and I welcomed the birth of our first child—a son we named Andrew. Believe me, an incredible experience that puts a whole new perspective on life.
Steve Nash, Bing Hu (center) and Leandro Barbosa on a flight to China. (Aaron Nelson/Suns Photos)
Shortly after his birth, I left for a week for summer league in Las Vegas. I made a couple of trips back and forth from Vegas to Phoenix to do some work with Grant Hill. After summer league, I was home for about a week and then traveled to Vancouver for a few days for Steve Nash’s Charity Event. It was at that point that I promised my wife I would be home for the next couple of months prior to leaving for the Sun’s training camp in October. She and I both knew better. I ended up going to Las Vegas for another week to work with the USA Select Team—a team of younger NBA players assembled to scrimmage against the USA National Team in preparation for the FIBA qualifying tournament. I had planned to do a blog about that whole experience (which was great), but I put it on the back burner and never got around to it. All of this brings me to the final (so I hope) trip of the summer prior to camp on October 1st, a trip to Beijing, China for the Steve Nash/Yao Ming Charity game. So, as I thank my wife and son for being so understanding, I will attempt to give everyone some idea of how this trip unfolds.
September 11th, 202007
6 a.m. – Alarm goes off but actually get an extra hour of sleep (usually get up at 5 a.m.). I proceed to eat breakfast, shower, and wait for my son to wake up so I can spend an hour with him and my wife before the car comes to pick me up and takes me to Scottsdale Airpark.
7:45 a.m. – Car arrives, I kiss my wife and son good-bye and I realize how much traveling makes me miss them.
9 a.m. - Arrive at Scottsdale Airpark to board our private plane (Falcon 900) owned by Bing Hu. Bing is a good friend of Steve Nash and actually flew my staff and I up to Steve’s charity game in Vancouver on the same plane. Bing is Chinese and will help us around Beijing, which will make things a lot easier. The Nash/Yao Charity game was an idea spawned between Bing and Steve to help the poor children in China. Steve approached Yao after a game between the Suns and Rockets and the whole event was quickly put together.
9:45 a.m. – Flight departs and we head to Las Vegas to pick up some auction items for the charity event. On the flight is Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, Alando Tucker, DJ Strawberry, Bing Hu, Jody Evans (assistant within BDA Sports), our flight attendant, and myself.
11 a.m. - Load auction items and depart Las Vegas for Seattle to pick up the rest of the players.
1:30 p.m. - Land in Seattle and pick up Baron Davis, Chuck Hayes, Amir Johnson, and Paul Davis. Carmello Anthony will meet us in Beijing.
Now the time becomes a little foggy and we pass through many time zones. We make stops in Anchorage, Alaska and Petropavlosk-Kamcatsig, Russia to refuel. Steve and Leandro stay sleeping on the plane during our Russian refueling stop while the rest of us get out to stretch our legs on the tarmac. Once we have the plane serviced, we fly across the Okhotsk Sea to China. We land in Beijing around 6:30 p.m. local time the following day(Beijing is 15 hours ahead of Phoenix time).
We have a bus pick us up and take us to our hotel – The Regent Beijing. It is an awesome hotel, but the service was somewhat suspect. It began by them not having a key ready for my room which was the last thing I wanted to hear after traveling for ¾ of a day! We all went to a press conference in the hotel in which Steve and Yao were introduced to a room full of media. The rest of the players were also in attendance and received and answered questions for about an hour. After the press meeting, I was able to get into my room with my bags, but still had to wait for them to bring me my key. Eventually, I was all set and the boys and I headed off to a night of karaoke (very popular in China). Steve and Baron had the microphone most of the night which was beyond entertaining. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time!