Miami Heat arrive in China to play Los Angeles Clippers in preseason games
While the Miami Heat’s schedule includes a few VIP receptions, a tour of the Great Wall of China and various other excursions, NBA’s 2011 MVP LeBron James warned that the week-long trip will be anything but for leisure and relaxation.
"If anyone comes back with any body fat from this trip, then I don't know what they were doing on their free time," stated the Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who is on his ninth visit to the China.
The Miami Heat are hoping that their players will get an opportunity to absorb a few flavors of the Chinese culture, but the team has some NBA business planned into this week’s schedule. During the tour, originally planned as part of the NBA China Games, the Miami Heat will twice face the Los Angeles Clippers; once in Beijing on Thursday, and then in Shanghai on Sunday.
"Should be fun," LeBron James said of Miami Heat’s China trip. "It's a very long trip to be bonding together, but we're going to use it and not waste an opportunity."
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who is still recovering from an offseason knee surgery and did not play the preseason opener against Atlanta Hawks, took off for a Monday-night workout soon after the plane landed in China. He is hoping to play at least one game against the Los Angeles Clipper this week.
However, the Miami Heat don’t begin their first official practice until Tuesday, with a visit to the Great Wall of China incorporated into their busy schedule.
"We're looking forward to the opportunity," stated Dwayne Wade. "I think as an organization, as players individually… it will be a great opportunity to continue to grow our game."
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra reiterated those comments adding that the team should try to take maximum “advantage” of the NBA’s rare overseas programs.
“Our last trip was tremendous when we went to Europe,” said Erik Spoelstra. “Great team-building, and you get to see another part of the world and do it together."
Meanwhile, Miami Heat experts forward Shane Battier, who has an endorsement deal with Chinese shoe brand Peak, hopes to make some memorable moments sharing “funky meals” with the rest of his teammates.
But there are other advantages to playing overseas. The NBA allows teams playing internationally in the preseason to start their training camp early.
"If we didn't have this training camp I'd be thinking that this is a tough thing, a lot of distractions and so forth,” said Erik Spoelstra. “But we've had a full training camp.”
Erik Spoelstra added that when the Miami Heat play out of their “comfort zone,” it will add to their “team-building” efforts.
Dwyane Wade, who was part of Miami Heat’s European preseason campaign against the Brooklyn Nets in 2008, believes that the playing exhibitions games against the same team just a few days apart will evoke a competitive spirit in the team.
“"The first game will be fun and will give the fans a show,” said Dwyane Wade. “The second one's going to be a little more intense. Guys will want to get at it and try to win… You need to be pushed, you need to feel fatigued, all those things.”