Next stop for the NBA Read to Achieve Express:
The No. 2 Experimental Primary School in Beijing

By John Hareas

BEIJING, Oct. 16 -- Chris Webber was beaming. As the group of 50 third through sixth graders of the No. 2 Experimental Primary School of Beijing sang “A Song of Love” for the audience gathered at their school for the NBA’s Read to Achieve event, the Sacramento King was touched by their performance.

“You look and sounded like little angels when you were singing,” said Webber addressing the brown- and white-clad uniformed students. “You did a great job.”

Chris Webber, George Bodenheimer, a certain mouse, David Stern (far right) and local dignitaries participated in Saturday's Read to Achieve event.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Webber along with teammate Bobby Jackson visited the school along with NBA Commissioner David Stern; George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports; and Zhang Heng, vice president of the Beijing Administration of Sport, among others, to congratulate the students on their studies and to celebrate the joys of reading.

“It is a great pleasure to be here in Beijing at such an exciting time, not only as a sponsor of the first ever NBA games in China but of course at this very important event,” said Bodenheimer, whose company donated 1,000 books to the school and will open Hong Kong Disney in late 2005.

“Bringing Disney to the world’s most populated nation is truly thrilling and historic undertaking because we believe that creativity and quality content knows no boundaries, we hope today’s event be a milestone for the people of China as we open the doors to entirely new worlds of fantasy, imagination and adventure.”

Hall of Famer Bob Lanier and WNBA players Alana Beard, Kara Lawson were also joined by crowd favorite and Shanghai native Liu Wei of the Kings, who is trying to become the first Chinese guard to make an NBA team.

“Any day is a good day for Poohsticks says Pooh,” read Big Bob Lanier along with the kids during one of the read aloud sessions. “He can lean over the bridge and watch as the water rolls by … splash!"

The enthusiastic response from the students heightened later when Mickey Mouse emerged from the double doors to greet the students.

For Webber, the opportunity to reach out and speak to the kids was too good to pass up.

“When you have you a chance on the other side of the world to hopefully have some positive impact with the students, you have take advantage,” said Webber. “Hopefully, talking to them about reading will reinforce what their parents and teachers are already doing.”