During the Los Angeles Lakers visit to China, Pau Gasol is the face for the Los Angeles Lakers on the court with Kobe Bryant injured.
The Los Angeles Lakers arrived in China on Saturday, and the team appears to be overcoming the jetlag and settling into the culture and surroundings.
The Lakers took flight on Friday afternoon, and yes, Kobe Bryant was along for the ride. After making a quick fueling stop in Alaska, the Lakers arrived in China to conclude a 13 hour journey. On Sunday morning in Beijing, the Lakers took the practice floor—for those wondering, Beijing’s time zone is 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles. Regardless of the zip code or country code, though, basketball on the hardwood doesn’t change.
After holding practice and getting some much needed work in, the team changed clothes, showered up, and took a trek to the Great Wall of China. The journey to the Great Wall is about an hour by car, and there is a bit of a hike involved after arriving on site. If nothing else, the extra team bonding and team activities should have helped serve to fight off the jet lag.
On Monday, the Lakers will hold another practice and allow the full breath of the Chinese media to observe. Bryant was present on Sunday’s practice, so he will likely be available for the media on Monday. The injured Lakers’ superstar is arguably even more revered in China than he is in the United States.
“All you could hear was ‘Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,’” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who was an assistant with Team USA during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recalled the USA Olympians being introduced back in 2008. “That was pretty cool. I think it ticked off LeBron (James) and those other guys.”
Bryant has made several trips to China, and his most recent trip came in early August when he went on a promotional tour with Nike. Judging by the images, it would be safe to say that the Chinese would still be chanting “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,” if Team USA took the floor today.
With Bryant watching from the sidelines, the Lakers will play two exhibition games in China as part of the NBA Global Games. First, the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in Beijing on Oct. 15. Then, the Lakers face the same Warriors team in Shanghai on Oct. 18.