One of the largest, if not the largest group of NBA supporters live in China. The Chinese absolutely love and adore the NBA, stemming from the success of Hall of Famer Yao Ming. It is pretty common to walk down the street here and see teenagers and young adults with a basketball in their hands. I have seen plenty of James Harden, Steph Curry, Lebron James and CryRie Irving jerseys all over China. With the growing support and fan base in China, the NBA has at least two preseason games as well as numerous player appearances in China every year. Players come to China on tours to help run camps, experience the culture and further their name brand.
I was traveling through the Chinese capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu in August 2018. Chengdu is a great place for authentic Sichuan spicy food, when I say spicy I mean sweating, uncomfortable, hate yourself spicy food. It is also known for its girls (beautiful Chinse girls in Chengdu), pollution and its biggest draw, the Giant Pandas. Out of all of these things that draw you to Chengdu, you can probably see why I wanted to Guy Around there.
After reading up for several weeks about the Giant Panda’s, the biggest thing people write about is the best time to see them. They are extremely lazy animals, sleeping and eating most of the day. To really see them in action you need to go when they first open. That is one part of the day where the Panda’s are being fed so they are actually active then. I qued (using this word from my time in the UK) up early in the morning and entered as soon as the gates opened. I went to one of the first areas where the Giant Panda’s are, eagerly looking for these lazy animals.
As I was looking, a family of Chinese tourists asks to take my picture with them. This happens all the time here with me, I will have separate posts about these photo sessions. You never take just one photo with a family like this, I think I took about 20. Other people around take notice and also ask for pictures as well. They either take pictures with me because they think I am famous (which is true) or I am a foreigner and they don’t see foreigners too often. After the third person I took photos with I look over and see a guy who is much taller than me. First glance he had to be a footer, 7 feet tall. He is with a few other people and they are at the fence about 5 meters to my left. I see a Houston Rockets shirt and using my useless NBA knowledge, I realize that it’s their center, Clint Capella who at the time just signed a 5 year 90 million dollar contract extension.
I stop and look around where there are people literally waiting to get my picture taken with them and notice that Clint has no one around him except his crew of flunkies (Chapelle’s Show reference for you nonwatchers). I go through some more pictures, looking over at Clint every few seconds. He has a few fans that come to him and ask him for pictures which he agrees to do. I look to my left and right and had a line of people! This makes no sense to me, I’m just a guy that Guys Around and he plays for China’s favorite NBA team (Yao Ming = Rockets). Either Chinese fans are all fake fans and really don’t know anything about the NBA or they dislike Clint. He seemed like a pretty stand up guy. Clint and his crew decide to leave and walk past my way. Without hesitation, I look up mid picture with a random fan/person and tell Clint to “trust the process”. He looks back at me, smiles and shakes his head.
From that point on, I knew I was more popular then Clint Capella in China and I also knew, the Philadelphia 76ers will win the 2019 NBA Championship. Trust the process. Especially you Clint Capella.