My China Photo Diary

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Troy Daniels, Guard / Charlotte Hornets - The Players' Tribune

In October, the Charlotte Hornets traveled to Shanghai and Shenzhen for the NBA Global Games China, where they played the Clippers twice and visited schools to put on basketball clinics. Hornets guard Troy Daniels sent this dispatch of his trip.

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If you don’t think basketball is a global game, you will once you go to China. Chinese people love basketball as much or maybe more than Americans. This was my second trip to China in two years and I can definitely say that the people are really friendly and wildly excited about our visits there. I got to meet Yao Ming and it was a sight to see. Yao is like the president of China. He’s bigger than just a basketball star. When Yao talks, there isn’t an eye that’s not on him. I learned a lot about presence just by watching him. The way he inspires people and the way he conducts himself in public is really impressive. He’s a great ambassador for the game.

For a lot of Chinese fans, I think it was special to get to see Jeremy Lin on this trip. He wasn’t quite as big as Yao, but he was a big deal. I think it’s cool that fans relate to him and are excited about his success.

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It’s only right to start a team trip with a team selfie. It makes sense that J. Lin’s right there in the middle because he was kind of our captain for this trip. On the plane over there, he acted as our guide — telling us what to expect, and giving us insight into Chinese culture and customs. He even tried to teach us some Chinese. But, man, the Chinese language is pretty tough. I really couldn’t grasp it. J. Lin even said it was probably the hardest language in the world to learn, even for him.

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The plane ride was really long. Usually that’s a bad thing, but this trip was the opposite. The plane ride was what we needed … down time. We all really gelled as a group on that flight. You’d think that we already have a lot of down time during the season with all the travel we do, but most of our flights are under two hours and we’re on a strict schedule once we arrive to a new city. Even when we’re in Charlotte, guys spend down time with their families. So because the China flight was so long, we all got a chance to talk to each other and get some real bonding time in.

And video games. We got a lot of video games, too. Kemba and I pretty much set up a gaming room on the plane.

We brought this portable TV and set up 2k. We must have played three hours straight on that flight. In 2k we both play with the Hornets a lot, but our most heated matchup on that trip was Cavs-Spurs. When I need a definite win, I’ll take LeBron because he’s unreal on 2k. If I need a late bucket, I’m not passing or anything. It’s just about getting LeBron the ball, pressing square and going to the rim. Kemba plays with the Spurs because of how deep the Spurs bench is. They just keep sending guys off the bench and I’m like, “Man, that guy would be starting on most teams.” To this day, Kemba will say he is better than me in 2k, but he knows he’s wrong.

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On the team bus on our way to an NBA event at a school in Shanghai. The boys taking a second to check Instagram.

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I was fascinated by the architecture and design in China. I don’t know what this building in Shanghai is, but we were riding by it and I had to snap a picture. It looked futuristic. All over China, I saw really interesting architecture. I have to say, I feel like they’re ahead of us with architecture Everything’s bigger and more experimental in China.

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This mall was the biggest mall I’ve ever been to. And it’s probably not even the biggest mall in China. As soon as we walked in, we were rushed by a bunch of people so we only got a few minutes there. I can’t even put a number on how many photos people were taking of us that day. The mall had everything … clothes, toys, bags … and those little hoverboard things. We went crazy over the hoverboards. They had hoverboards I’d never seen before, ones with crazy lights on them and speakers that played music. We were riding around the mall on them. I was thinking practically: Christmas gifts for family and friends. We had someone ask the TSA how many we could bring back. Let’s just say I brought back the maximum.

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More selfies. That’s me, Kemba and PJ peeking in on the right. This one’s great because there’s a guy photobombing us and taking a photo of our selfie. I wish I could have included his photo too.

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Patrick Ewing and the team on the way to our bus in Shanghai. Every day there were a couple hundred people waiting for us on our way out of the hotel. I was continually amazed by the positive energy of the fans.

I’m pretty sure not everyone knew who I was, but I was surprised that fans knew a lot of players on both teams, just by sight. Because I played for Houston for a while, a few fans even came up to me and mentioned the Rockets. Chinese fans really know their NBA. It was impressive.

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This was a special event the NBA put on at an elementary school. Adam Silver and both our team and the Clippers were there. These little girls welcomed us with a dancing routine.

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When we arrived, students put these red ties around our necks in a ceremony. The tie is part of their school uniform. I liked them so much, I might even rock that look here. Put a suit jacket on. You never know where you’ll find the next fashion accessory.

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After we finished a basketball clinic at the school, people kind of just walked onto the court. In the U.S. this kind of thing probably wouldn’t happen. Fans tend to hang back until you go up them, or there’s better security. But it turned out to be pretty cool. Kids were just coming right up to us and putting their arms around us or shake our hands. I didn’t see one shy fan in China and I think it shows how much excitement there is about the game. For Chinese fans it’s not every day an NBA team comes to your city.

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The crowd went all the way around the court in a circle. Cheering us on, like it was the upper decks at a baseball game.

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This was the most amazing arena I’ve ever seen in my life. It looked like a spaceship, and it was even cooler when they lit it up at night. Like it was about to take off. It’s crazy that they fit a court inside because when you enter the arena it doesn’t look like the ceilings will be high enough to fit a court in.

Those are the game tickets. I guess they forgot to use my picture on it. It’s all good though.

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A once in a lifetime view from the top of the tallest hotel in Shanghai. That’s me and Kemba. They told us we went there on a good smog day because you could actually see the whole city for miles.

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This is on the bus back to the airplane on our last night. The airport grounds crew completely stopped working for a minute to get pictures. Everybody went up to J. Lin. You can see Jeremy’s reflection here in the window as he’s getting up to wave to them.

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