Wednesday, July 22, 2009

adidas Nations basketball camp in Beijing

This happened two months ago, but it was only recently, borrowing the speedy wi-fi of the Fuchengmen Starbucks, that I was able to get the following video uploaded.

Here's the story I wrote for ESPN The Magazine's website about the camp. The opening:

Amid a gym of squeaking sneakers and the incessant tat-tat-tat of dribblers, a sharp command: "Hold up."

The Chinese players on Court 1 halt, hardly knowing why. Eric Musselman, former Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings coach, signals for the ball and walks towards the baseline.

"Get it out of the net," he snaps. To these kids, none older than 18, his words are foreign, baffling. But even without a translator, the intensity of the American's instruction—suggestive of aggressiveness, focus, energy; all those insisted-upon differences between the NBA and the rest of the world's basketball leagues— forces its way through.

"Get both feet out," he instructs a player inbounding a ball. "Clear the backboard, then go. Got it? Details. Little details."

Five seconds later, the fast break drill is stopped again. It's a familiar directive: "Hold up." This time there is something akin to disgust in Musselman's voice—yet it's measured, practiced, and coming from a coach who's used this tone a thousand times before.

"Listen: run hard. Don't jog. Run! RUN!"

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