The whole day was counting down to playing basketball with Ronnie and various members of his team and the Logic staff. I was nervous at first, but quickly realized I had nothing to lose by playing ball with them. Once work got out, I was downright excited to see how differently the game was played in China.
First, as a preface, it should be noted that the Chinese love basketball — especially the NBA. If you’re a sports fan in America, it’s safe to say the NBA isn’t exactly regarded highly. But when I told some of the team members I was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I didn’t expect anyone to know where that was. Almost immediately Ronnie said, “Milwaukee… Milwaukee… the Bucks! Jennings!” He knew all about the Milwaukee Bucks and started naming players.
Now, back to the present. We drove in Ronnie’s car to the courts. I have played on courts all over the country – from Orlando to Michigan to Missouri – but this court in Shanghai has to be in my top five. In the middle of seemingly nowhere, among dark, dim buildings, a large warehouse sat unassuming. When we pulled up, there was a lone light on in the office and one light above one hoop in the warehouse. But when you enter the warehouse, you see about four courts stretching far into the darkness. All of my worries and thoughts faded away. I felt at home and I was ready to play some basketball.
We quickly organized teams. There were seven of us so one of the teams would have to play a man down. I was selected for the three-man team, which was something that I saw was a compliment. As soon as we were off, the action started – and it didn’t stop for at least an hour. It didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language of my teammates. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what the score was, or even if we were keeping score. It didn’t matter how many times I shot the ball and made it or shot the ball and missed. All that matter was the game knows no boundaries. You can hear playful banter and taunting no matter what language it is in. You know when someone takes an awful shot and everyone teases him. You know when someone makes an amazing move and everyone applauds. The language of the net, the rim and the squeaking on the floor are universal. Every basketball player is fluent. Sorry if that’s a little cheesy, but I had a lot of fun playing the game.