Siler said you’re not going to find much General Tso’s chicken in China.
(Not an actual photo)

Not all basketball players take traditional routes to get to the NBA. Some work their way through the D-League or Europe.

Suns center Garret Siler took even a more unlikely path. He got his reps playing in China.

That’s right, the 6-11, 300-pound pivot got his start playing for Yao Ming’s team. Not only was it the team that Yao played for when he was in China, but the team that he’s the owner of now.

Through his time in the Far East, Siler developed a huge admiration for the Chinese culture. In addition to the appreciation that formed from his time abroad, he also became aware of some differences between the two cultures.

“I loved the culture and art,” Siler said. “I love seeing different cultures and dealing with different people, other than my own. It just helped me learn for myself.”

Here are some random observations and interesting occurrences that Siler accrued during his time in China.

Fantastic Fans: Besides all of his home games being sold out, his team’s fans would chant throughout the entire contest.

Language: During his time there, Siler picked up some phrases in Chinese that allowed him to survive. One phrase he understood well is when his home crowd would chant appreciatively, “Let’s go Big G!”

Personal Space: If you’re not into “close-talkers,” then China might not be the country for you.

“They don’t believe in personal space,” he joked, “They’re all up in your business when they talk to you!”

Chinese Food: The Chinese food in China is different than what you’d find here in the United States. The food has been Americanized here.

“I love sesame chicken,” Siler said. “And they didn’t have any of that over there.”

So if you think China is plump-full of Panda Express and P.F. Changs restaurants, think again.

Public Relations: While NBA players are always taking part in commercials, appearances and other community events, Siler said that there wasn’t as much of that over in China. However, for Chinese New Year’s, Siler was recruited to play and sing “Chopsticks” for his team’s fans.

Civil Action: Like other teams, players or sports organizations that take stands, Siler’s team imposed a ban against selling shark fin soup within the arena. Due to all of the sharks that were killed to produce it, the team decided to stop promoting or selling the soup.

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