League Staff Writer – 10/25/2009
Possibly the biggest influence on this tour was the Swine Flu panic that is affecting the media and city officials in China. With all due respect, the SARS epidemic that devastated this country in 2003 has left a deft reminder of reality and fear in the minds of many. So, as games had been scheduled back in April, May and June, this was followed by cancellations. Games 2 and 3 of the 11 game tour were deleted upon our arrival to China on September 14. Promoters Han and Li were on pins and needles throughout the 17 day tour, concerned that more games could be eliminated. Fortunately, they were not but it was always a possibility. Two games also got shuffled around and were later “sandwiched” on the last two days of our tour. These two days had been planned for just relaxing, shopping and sightseeing in the beautiful city of Guangzhou. With 4 games packed in on the final 4 days of the trip, this met one very long flight (6 hours) as well as 2-3 bus trips to and from our hotel to the game sites. Throw in the fact that CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) teams were without their National Players, due to the Asian Games being played and China was beginning the weeklong celebration of their 60th Anniversary, you now had havoc with travel arrangements. The end results were 11 players and 3 team personnel staffers running on fumes. Living out of a suitcase is okay when you are staying in one city for 3-4 days but to be on the run 5 consecutive days, you are now earning your “Road Warrior” membership. All pity put aside, there was three things that kept us going during that 5 day stretch. We all had our health, we were traveling in a beautiful country that we may never see again and we Love the game of Basketball. There was also great bonding amongst the players and coaching staff on those bus trips and train excursions. What a better way to make new friends through the game of basketball in a foreign country. We felt very much a part of the Harlem Globetrotters entertaining fraternity.
Summing up our 2009 China Tour experience, we had a group of gentlemen (players and staff) who were absolute saints in dealing with the unexpected and challenging travel conditions. When you go on a distinct change in diet for 17 days, it can also change your disposition and attitudes; we are talking about the downside or negative demeanor in personalities. Not this time. The Breakers comprised of solid, mentally tough, appreciative individuals who always saw the glass more than half full. Throw in the fact that we were competitive every game night and gave the fans more than their money’s worth and you walk away from this Tour saying, “That was a great experience that I will never forget and I have made some great new friends in the process.”
Basketball is a bi-product for life. It is a vehicle for striving to succeed in life, to wake up each morning motivated, to live each day to it’s fullest. The 40 or 48 minute game is just a miniscule of what the game is all about. Having traveled globally, once again, for the sake of basketball, my words ring true-er each time, “Thank you Dr. Naismith!”