If you’ve ever taken a flight you know all too well that things don’t always go according to plan.
Despite using chartered planes, the Sixers found that out the hard way during a longer-than-expected trek to Shanghai for the first leg of the NBA China Games.
“For me, it didn’t seem as crazy as it was for others,” head coach Brett Brown told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “I was actually doing work and fell asleep. I was a bit surprised when you felt the plane sort of take off again and I did wake up and looked out and saw a Sunoco sign when I thought we were over the South Pacific.”
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The groggy feeling from the extra time spent traveling quickly wore off for the team when it received a jolt from the city. Players saw themselves on billboards around Shanghai while fans mobbed their hotel and events where they were scheduled for appearances.
“It’s insane. It’s really insane,” Markelle Fultz said. “Just being able to drive down the street and see yourself or one of your teammates on a poster just driving on the bus. It’s pretty crazy just to see all the way out here in China and how global the game has become. It’s pretty cool.”
While the Sixers are soaking up all of the love, Brown is trying to establish a delicate balance. He wants the team to savor everything that comes along with a trip to such a culture-rich city but also know there is work to be done with two games against the Dallas Mavericks.
“I feel like it’s an opportunity to come together, to enjoy a completely different part of the world and culture,” Brown said. “The fans here are rabid. They love basketball. And I’m personally just trying to coach myself that we’re here and we’ve got to make the most of it. Still get professional practices and video sessions and strength and conditioning sessions and enjoy the whole sort of history of where we are.
“… These opportunities together don’t come around real often, so I want to make sure that we just handle it well and enjoy it.”