Former NBA star, Inside the NBA analyst checks in from China
Bloggin' From China: Kenny Smith

Kenny Smith
Former NBA Star, TV Analyst
He played for both Sacramento and Houston, and he's an analyst on TNT's popular basketball show, "Inside the NBA." He's player-pundit Kenny Smith, and he'll be checking in periodically from China, where he's traveling with the Kings and Rockets.

Posted on Oct. 15, 2004 at 10:33 a.m. ET

Kings-Rockets thoughts ... Hello, Beijing

After being in Shanghai for a couple of days, you really felt the excitement about the NBA leading up to Thursdayís nightís game between the Kings and the Rockets. The fans who packed Shanghai Stadium were obviously excited. It isnít an every day occurrence to get this caliber of players over here and then at the same time, you have two of your homegrown products inside of that mix in Yao Ming and Liu Wei and itís obviously something special.

Kenny Smith thinks Chris Webber, seen here at the Great Wall of China, is playing better now than he did at the start of last season.
Andrew D. Bernstein
NBAE/Getty Images
The NBA pulled out all of the stops. It felt like I could have been at the Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, the Toyota Center or even in Sacramento. You had all of the elements from the dancers, the dunkers at halftime, everything that the NBA game offers.

Some of the questions I have for the Rockets ... They have to find a point guard or settle in on one. I think thatís going to be important. The Rockets began the game with T-Mac starting at point, which negates a lot of the great things he can do on the wings and it also slows up the offense a lot.

As for the Kings, Sacramento looks like Sacramento. Throw a healthy Doug Christie into that mix when he returns, and add Bobby Jackson, and Sacramento is tough. I thought C-Webb is coming around. He looks a lot better than he did at the end of last season when he came back. Heís still not as fluid and doesnít have all of the things that we are accustomed to. Last season, I would say he was 50 percent when he came back. Right now I would say heís about 80 or 85 percent and thatís a big jump for him.

After the game, we hopped on a plane to Beijing and arrived early morning. Immediately, you got a sense that Beijing is a different world from Shanghai, which is more cosmopolitan and Western influenced. Beijing does offer the great architecture and you still have the new buildings, but you see more of a Chinese flare to it instead of a Western flare. When I come here and visit, I want to feel like Iím away from home. This to me will be the most fun of the trip. One of the first places we visited on Friday morning was Tiananmen Square and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall where Chairman Mao is buried and embalmed. To visit that site is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be a part of and seeing history is what this trip is all about for me and my daughter. Next stop: The Forbidden City.

Posted on Oct. 12, 2004 at 12:53 p.m. ET

International insights

What a journey. This is my first time in Shanghai, and China, for that matter, and wow. We havenít been able to do a lot yet because weíre still trying to get accustomed to the time zone difference but from what Iíve seen thus far, Iím really excited. Itís like taking things out of history books and being able to see them in person. Itís a great feeling. You see artifacts such as those on display at the Shanghai Museum and it says B.C. on them and itís just mind boggling. What a cultural experience. I have my 11-year-old daughter Kayla with me and so far, this trip has been priceless.

Clyde Drexler, Mel Davis, Bill Russell, Commissioner David Stern, Kenny Smith and Bob Lanier pose in front of statue of Chen Yi, first mayor of Shanghai.
Jennifer E. Pottheiser
NBAE/Getty Images
We saw the Shanghai Acrobats perform earlier today after we visited the Bund, which is located along the Huangpu River and you can see Shanghaiís new business district, which has mushroomed within the last 10 years. No matter where you go in Shanghai, you can feel the energy all around you and the growth. Itís like this city is on the verge of being a New York.

A lot has been written about China back in the United States and since Iíve been blessed to travel a lot, what you notice is that people are people. Governments and political issues are so far to one side from the common person. Whatever you hear or see is always different. There is always someone who wants to have their son do well or there is always someone who just wants to say hello. Itís the same everywhere. Thatís what is most mind boggling to me and a main reason why I brought Kayla. I wanted to show her that people everywhere are exactly the same, and share the same concerns, worries and insights.

I have a full schedule of more places to visit on Wednesday such as the French Concession and the Tour of Xintiandi, but as I look ahead to Thursday nightís game, I can tell you that I really donít know what to expect. But what I do know is that there will be a lot of Rocket fans and a lot of Rocket red at the stadium. Iím eager to see the new-look Rockets featuring T-Mac and Yao. I always look forward to seeing the Sacramento Kings play, especially after the Peja "I want to be traded" remarks from this past summer. Plus, we havenít seen Chris Webber play and reportedly there is some swelling in his knee. It will be fun to see what he looks like if he has an opportunity to play. To see all of those different things will be fun.

Who am I rooting for? Well, since I played for both the Rockets and Kings and I only won with the one, I have to place my the loyalties for the Rockets.