For the fun of it the other night, prior to the 76ers’ tipping off against the Orlando Magic at The Center, we cornered a couple guys *** in the locker room, and asked them a handful of frivolous questions – mostly logistical in nature – about the team’s impending NBA China Games trip.
Here’s what they had to say:
*** We should note that Norvel Pelle ended up not accompanying the club to China, due to gastroenteritis. Still, we thought a few of his anecdotes about China’s passion for hoops were worth including.
How did packing go?
Emeka Okafor: “Sports coat, jeans. It’s really like clothes, nothing too crazy.”
Norvel Pelle: “I think I’m an over-packer, so I think I might have packed a little bit too much.”
One suitcases, or multiple?
EO: “I have two suitcases. No reason to force it.”
NP: “One. Playing overseas, you get to know how to organize your suitcase a little bit better.”
Demetrius Jackson: “It didn’t take me very long to pack. I’m just taking one suitcase. Easy, easy. With this being my third year in the league, I’ve learned how to pack properly – stuff I don’t need, stuff I do need. Maybe a little wiggle room for stuff I may need.”
Video game system make the trip?
EO: “No. I don’t really intend to be playing very many video games. Whatever free time I have, I’ll explore the city.”
NP: “Nah. Didn’t have enough room.”
DJ: “I’m keeping my PS4 at home this time, which is big. I’m excited [for China]. I’m really excited to go. It’s a blessing. I probably never would have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for basketball. So I’m really thankful for that.”
Have you been to China before?
EO: “I’ve been to Shanghai. It was with the NBA. Went through Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenyang. It was an NBA Cares event.”
NP: [travelled to China in 2014 while playing internationally] “A lot of people. It’s real historical, the buildings are nice, the scenery is nice.”
DJ: “This trip will be the longest I’ve gone on so far. Australia is one of my dream places I hope to go to some day, but China’s been a destination of mine I’ve wanted to go to for a long time. I’m so excited to experience the energy on the basketball side. Off the court, just experience the culture, architecture, the people, the food. There are going to be a lot of great things.”
How much enthusiasm is there for basketball in China?
EO: “They’re pretty enthusiastic fans. Very excited, very welcoming. I had a blast.”
NP: “Oh gosh. They love it. It’s like second nature. Oh my goodness. They come up to you. I played a game in Taiwan [in 2014], it was like a miniature tour with retired players, like T-Mac [Tracy McGrady], [Latrell] Sprewell. You could just see everybody outside with T-Mac’s old shoes trying to get him to sign. So they take basketball super seriously.
What are you looking forward to?
DJ: “In addition to just the basketball aspect of it, there’s more people who play basketball in China than there are people living here, which is crazy to think about. It’s amazing, It just shows the power of the sport, and how it can really unite people. I’m excited about that, and then, not thinking about basketball terms, I’m excited to experience something new, something different, and try to understand and learn about the culture. I heard where we’re going is beautiful, beautiful architecture. I’m a photography guy, so I’m taking my camera, taking some pictures, so I’m excited.”