The Cavaliers have three players who grew up Stateside and, even if it was for a few months, plied their trade overseas. (Anthony Parker, who was almost iconic in Israel, doesn’t count.)
Lester Hudson played with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association. The proud franchise had won seven CBA titles and once featured former Cavaliers, Smush Parker and Lamond Murray. In his short stint, Hudson averaged 33.6 ppg and was second on his team in scoring. (Behind current Knick, J.R. Smith.)
Alonzo Gee spent last fall’s lockout in Poland with Asseco Prokom Gdynia, a team that won five straight finals in the PBA. A quartet of former Cavaliers has passed through the franchise, including Mike Wilks, Gary Alexander, Devin Brown and Dajuan Wagner.
Donald Sloan played as an import for the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the Philippine Basketball Association. The only Cavalier who’s suited up for them is Henry James, but the PBA has had some colorful players pass through – (by name, anyway) – including Robert “The Big J” Jaworski, Samboy “Skywalker” Lim and Vergel Meneses – "The Aerial Voyager."
The trio of Cavaliers wasn’t overseas for very long, but for anyone who’s spent time in a foreign country, even a short stay can be trying.
Assuming the language barrier is the major hurdle – (guessing that Alonzo Gee’s second language growing up in Riviera Beach, Florida wasn’t Polish) – we posed a trifecta of topics to the Wine and Gold’s wayfarers, starting naturally with …
... food ….
Gee Well, when we were in Training Camp, I had to eat, so there was certain stuff I had to try. Some of the food they cooked was real good. Some stuff I didn’t try; I didn’t bother to try. Like, if I don’t know what it is, I’m not going to try it. But the chicken with rice, the fish. The pasta, the regular pasta was good. I’m very picky on food, so I tried just the stuff I knew.
Hudson I had to get used to the food they had for me. So, you know, you have to eat. And I made it!
Sloan The food in the Philippines was pretty good. I tried some Filipino dishes and they were very tasteful. I’m very close-minded, so it surprised me that I tried it – and I liked it. The team fed us after practice. It was beef and rice, pork and rice, made differently each time. Chicken. It was all good.
Gee They have pancakes that are really, really thin. Like thin as paper. And it tasted bad.
Hudson They had McDonald’s and that helped me out a lot. But you don’t want to have too much fast food. So you get used to the Chinese food they were making. And after a while it was good.
Sloan The Philippines is more Americanized than people think. They had McDonald’s, TGI Friday’s, Outback Steakhouse. So I was pretty much there the whole time. I’d say about 75 percent/25 percent American food to Filipino. But like I said, I tried their food and it was pretty good.
… family and friends …
Gee I had Skype, but sometimes when the internet was down I had to use my phone. So I had some HIGH phone bills. It was a struggle being in contact with them.
Hudson Of course it was hard to stay in touch. I had Skype on my laptop, so I kept in touch through Skype. I had a phone that I’d used every now and then – but the minutes are so high. So I didn’t use it that often.
Sloan It was very hard keeping up with friends and family. And I think a big part was the time difference. It was a 12-hour time difference. That was kind of throwing me off a little bit, so the communication part was a little bad. Then you’re dealing with emails and Skype. You send them an email and you might not get something back until eight hours later when they wake up.
… fans …
Hudson Our fans were great. We had the best record that team ever had. But on the road it was kind of hard. But being an NBA player and being a top scorer, they got to like you. I never witnessed anything bad.
Gee The fans were unbelievable. They were great. I love the fans over there. They were very supportive. Crowds were good and the gyms were probably like a college arena. It was crazy, the fans were unbelievable.
Sloan Fans in the Philippines are passionate, and they take great pride in their teams. I played with the Ginebra Kings. It’s spelled “Ginebra” but it’s pronounced “En-EB-ra.” And when I first got over there I kept telling everybody I played with the Ginebra Kings and they’d say, ‘Enebra’? And compared to over here, they would be like their Lakers-type team. That was the team. So the fanbase was pretty crazy. It was quite an experience.