CLIPPERS VISIT THE GREAT WALL
The section of the Great Wall the Clippers visited Tuesday afternoon could not have been more picturesque. The weather was clear and crisp, the sun fading behind a range of mountains to the west, and the wall itself was greatly preserved.
Immediately following practice, the team was bussed to an area called Mutianyu, located in Huairau County about 50 miles north of Beijing. The section in Mutianyu is known for its more pristine condition than neighboring areas of the nearly 4,000-mile Wonder of the World.
Among the many things Clippers players and staff might have taken away from the day: the wall itself is astonishing and everything at its base camp is negotiable.
After riding six-person gondolas up the mountain side, the group, including players, coaches, organizational personnel, and family members made their way northwest. Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan were among those to sign their names inside a small watchtower where thousands of previous visitors had done the same.
Next the team took a photograph together a few hundred yards away from a wider and stepper tower. All 16 players on the trip (Chauncey Billups and Trey Thompkins remained in Los Angeles due to injury) were captured by legendary NBA photographer Andy Bernstein, who was roosted atop the watchtower, giving him a vantage point for the passing sunlight and a stretch of the Great Wall trailing into the distance.
On the way back down the mountain, a number of players purchased commemorative items, souvenirs and trinkets from vendors in a makeshift bazaar. Nearly the entire roster bought headwear, including Jamal Crawford and Marqus Blakely who donned big fuzzy winter hats and Blake Griffin who wore a hat shaped like a panda head.
Griffin’s antics were something to be seen. He negotiated prices with several vendors (wearing the hat), posed for pictures with passersby, and filmed much of his time on the wall with a camera phone. Perhaps the most pragmatic shopper was center Ryan Hollins, who took home three folding wooden chess/checkers sets of varying sizes. And, of course, Griffin for purely entertainment purposes.