For the month of July, I dedicated it to being a proud Dad. My son Sage, age 11, competes with basketball for time with his dad during the heart of the basketball season (some would say that is January thru December).
So, July began with a trip to Los Angeles for the Kobe Bryant Camp while Santa Barbaran’s were consumed with the Gap Fire and its potential catastrophe. We had a great 5 days at the Loyola Marymount University Campus, making new friends and brushing up against Kobe occasionally. When that concluded, I attended a tryout camp for several Breaker players who were auditioning for a job with 2 professional teams in Japan. Following two days in Long Beach, I took Sage to the Lakers Camp at UCSB. The Camp was a great opportunity for learning the skills under superb coaches and a positive environment. This was another 5 day event for Sage that we both savored.
It was now July 10th (my birthday) so I made my annual pilgrimmage to Las Vegas to the NBA Summer Pro League to both meet old friends in the NBA and recruit potential players for the China excursion. It was a great week of games and hanging out with past acquaintances. I also attended a tryout camp of 150 free agent players who were vying for jobs in Korea.
The final days of July were spent traveling to the great state of Montana. There is nothing more exuberating than to leave the computers and cell phones off and smell the natural breeze of Flathead Lake as wild deer dance uninhibited along the beachline.
Upon returning to Santa Barbara and prior to Old Spanish Days, I might add, guilt took over and I began the tedious task of processing Visa’s and Passports for each player selected for the China tour.
The hours led into days as I was required to receive 2 passport photo’s from each player as well as their valid passports. This eventually led me to making two trips to Los Angeles to secure these items. It also necessitated learning how to meticulously fill out complicated Sports Business Visa’s, unlike normal visa forms.
It was now late August and with the exception of the Visas being approved, we were on course for setting sail September 16 from Los Angeles to Shanghai.
During late August and into early September, I made several trips to Los Angeles to watch our players scrimmage, envisioning the chemistry necessary to unveil a successful team for China.
On Monday, September 8, I was able to make payment for the Visas to the Chinese Consulate in downtown Los Angeles. We were now officially accepted for travel to the Republic of China.
The final process before leaving the USA was to conduct some intense practices for the players and determine how the pieces all fit. With the exception of one player, each athlete was in superior conditioned shape. Now it was just a matter of creating a set of offenses along with a variety of defenses: man to man; full and half court traps and zones to benefit and compliment the skills that we possessed both as a team and individually speaking.
With the refined assistance of Priscilla, our team Photographer, the finishing touch was meeting briefly with our Mayor Marty Blum and the City Council Members as well as Police Chief Cam Sanchez. This journey to China was more than just basketball. We were representing the Great City of Santa Barbara. It was an honor to behold that responsibility. Thus, we were seeking their blessings in our travels to a foreign land.