LONDON — A day in China, and a few other days.
And those days are filled with a lot of smiles, lots of laughter and lots of excitement.
Some players are in the middle of their careers, some are in their 30s, and some are still learning the language.
For those who have made it to the NBA, it’s an entirely different story.
“I can’t really tell you how many smiles I’ve seen,” said former Miami Heat guard Shaquille O’Neal, who now lives in Beijing.
The days are full of excitement for O’Neill and his fellow players in Beijing, a city where the NBA has been playing for almost 20 years and where many of its players have roots.
“I’m from Chicago and now I’m playing in China,” O’Neil said.
He was at the team hotel when the news broke of O’Brien’s return to China.
O’Neal spent time with his wife, Toni, who was in the country for a wedding.
He was at his hometown’s Tianjin International Airport when O’ Neal called.
“It was like a dream,” Oleynsaid.
“I got a call from Shaq saying that he was here and wanted to meet with me.”
O’Brien, who played for the Heat from 1992-96, said he was surprised to see his former team in Beijing again.
“This is going to be great,” OBrien said.
“They have a great atmosphere.
I’m sure it’s going to take off.”
He’s not the only one.
NBA players are taking advantage of the opportunity to play in a country where they still speak a little English.
“The Chinese players are really taking advantage because of the NBA,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
NBA players are playing in a new and growing sport in ChinaThe NBA’s China-China Games opened Wednesday, with a showcase on the Beijing Sports City Stadium.
“China is a global sports market,” said Steve Lavin, the NBA’s Asia-Pacific vice president for media and partnerships.
“It’s a big opportunity for NBA players to showcase their skills and showcase China and that’s what we’re doing with this showcase.”NBA Commissioner Adam W. Silver said China has a huge fan base for basketball.
He said the NBA is excited to partner with the Chinese Basketball Association, a league with over 1,300 players.
He also noted that China is one of the top basketball markets in the world, with about 1.2 million fans a night watching basketball.
“In China, we have a big fan base and a really passionate basketball fan base,” Silver said.
Silver said the league plans to create a new global team, the Chinese Summer League.