I can’t even begin to put into words how awesome these first three days of camp have been. For starters, I was shooting around during lunch time yesterday when a NBA coach came up to me and casually started showing me some of his go-to post moves. I later found out that not only did those post-moves serve him well for six years in the NBA, but also that he’s a legend in the basketball world. Today, most camp coaches played against each other instead of heading to lunch, while some of the NBA players worked out with their respective league coaches. I’ve therefore certainly witnessed some great basketball in the first days of camp, even at lunch time.
Australia, China, South Korea, India, and New Zealand have teams here representing their countries in camp, so one can imagine the multitude of languages being spoken in the gym. It makes for a chaotic yet incredible daily routine. I’ve even been able to converse with at least five different people in French, so I’m not exaggerating when I say that there must be at least ten languages spoken fluently in that gym throughout the day. For someone such as myself, who thrives in this international diversity, it is truly a dream come true.
I have been helping out with the women’s U17 portion of the camp, which is comprised of 21 girls from all over mainland China. I got my first experience with coaching in a language that I do not speak, with a translator by my side. As one can imagine, hand gestures have become my best friend, while I am slowly learning more basketball terminology in mandarin. I started by using different movements, such as a box out, to get the young campers to understand, but I’m happy to say that I’m now able to use my words to communicate certain things to them. Most of the girls are eager to learn, and I’ve really appreciated working with them to create an understanding between us albeit the language barrier. I’ve gotten used to the head nods that I receive following some of my instructions, but I’m also aware of the blank stares that I get every now and then. They mostly come after we try to put a play in, since I’ve noticed that it’s sometimes hard for my team to “just go with the flow,” as some would say.
I’ve also gotten to watch some of the men’s scrimmages, which have been entertaining. While there have been some very good games, there are also inevitably ones that aren’t as competitive. For example, China has a player who is 7’4, as well as one who is 7’1, but the host team couldn’t seem to get going in their match-up against Australia. The latter country ended up beating China by over 40 points, after the Aussie coach told the players to “ease up and walk the ball up the court in the final minutes.” I must say however that the lack of effort coming from the Chinese team at times was astonishing. I’ve repeatedly heard people say that it seems as though they play so many games, year in and year out, that camps such as this one aren’t worth their maximum amount of energy. Following the second day of camp, a few boys from different teams reported stomach problems and didn’t participate in the third day. The camp doctor has announced that they have food poisoning, so please pray for me these next few days as we all eat at the same cafeteria.
Change of plans: Following this camp, I was supposed to head to a NBA Academy near Beijing to visit, observe, and train. However, one of the Chinese Basketball Association team who practices there is currently working towards the upcoming China Games. Because of this, the league has preferred not to have an outsider join them for a week, which is completely understandable. I’m still in the process of figuring out where I will go, but I’m planning on splitting my time between Shanghai and Hangzhou. I’ve been invited to tour the NBA offices in Shanghai, as well as stay at the NBA Academy in Hangzhou for a few days after camp ends. I will then be able to see a CBA team in action, as well as get involved in any basketball or strength & condition that I wish. Whatever I end up doing, I’m looking forward to it! This trip has been nothing short of an adventure so far, and I’ve been repeatedly pushed out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.