T.J. Campbell's NBA China Jam Live Diary
Hey Charge Nation! I just wanted to check in with you all and tell you about my trip to China recently for NBA China Jam Live! But before that, I want to be able to personally say thanks to all of you who came out to our games this past season and supported us throughout the year. I didn’t know what to expect coming into our first season, but you guys were all amazing and made us feel like a part of Canton. Thank you so much!
I was recently asked to go to Guangzhou, China with a group of players for NBA China Jam Live to promote basketball and meet some of the people over there. I was surprised and excited that they asked me to go… a free vacation just to go play basketball? I was all for it and jumped at the chance.
It was myself, Moses Ehambe from Iowa, L.D. Williams from Springfield, then Brandon Jennings of the Bucks, DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors and NBA legends Gary Payton and Horace Grant. I definitely had never met any of the new or old NBA guys and had only known L.D. and Moses from playing against them a few times this past year, so it was fun getting to spend some time and hang out with them.
We had a media day with all of the Chinese Basketball Association players and Chinese celebrities that were participating in the game. A lot of them spoke English so we got to know each other some and they told us about how much China loves basketball and the NBA. A lot of media were asking about Horace and Gary playing each other in the 1996 NBA Finals and to see some of Horace’s championship rings. It was cool to hear some of those stories firsthand. Everyone knew Horace and Gary, but they especially knew about DeMar and Brandon and would yell out their names and stop them everywhere we went.
The seven of us were all together the whole time, so we really got to know each other and experience this completely different culture together. We took a boat tour down the Pearl River, which they even call the “Canton River”, and got to take in the entire city. It was a pretty amazing view. We were all walking through a mall one day and someone yelled , “T.J.!” I was used to people recognizing the NBA guys, but couldn’t believe someone recognized me. He had made up his own basketball cards of all of us, including myself in my Charge uniform. It was really cool and he even gave me one of my own to keep. That was pretty incredible to be recognized all the way over in China.
One pretty memorable thing about the trip was all of the food. I don’t ever eat seafood and of course the first night we were there, all they had was seafood. They had tons of sushi and all these different kinds of fish, some of which I had no idea what it was. I went out of my comfort zone and tried a lot of fish that I would never normally eat, but nothing crazy. Moses was crazy though, he would eat ANYTHING! No matter what was in front of him, he would try it all. He didn’t even know what it was half the time and would still eat it. He’s a lot braver than I am.
The game was without a doubt the highlight of it all. It was set up just like any of the NBA All Star games you see on TV. Gary did the skills challenge for the fans and was talking the ENTIRE time. He doesn’t stop. He’s just always going on talking trash during and just having fun, it was really cool to see. They even had the fans come out of the stands and do three-point contests. Many of the celebrities we met earlier were musicians and performed some unique music throughout.
Brandon was our coach and it was myself, Moses and Horace on a team among other Chinese basketball players and celebrities. Horace was a trip, wearing his signature goggles that everyone recognizes him by. He brought like 30 pairs with him and would throw them in the crowd and just put new ones on. The fans were going nuts for it.
Thanks for letting me share some of the trip with you all! It was a lot of fun and an experience I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. Hopefully I’ll catch up with you soon and Go Charge!