EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Lakers held practice Sunday morning after spending nine days in China as ambassadors for NBA global expansion. It was a much lighter affair than most training camp practices, with the regular grind to be resumed Monday.
Each player said they had a great time visiting the Great Wall and performing in front of a basketball-mad country in Shanghai and Beijing.
“It was fun,” said point guard Steve Nash. “Even though it was a long distance to cover, there was very little adversity for us. “We had some good practices and some good stretches in the games against a very good Golden State Warriors team.”
However, looking in his eyes, you could tell something was missing: sleep.
“I’m definitely jet lagged,” Nash said, “and it’s something we all have to make sure to take care of. Get our rest, eat properly and some more sleep. Being tired can sometimes cause injuries and that’s something we have to avoid.”
With Kobe Bryant still not cleared to practice as he recovers from Achilles’ tendon surgery, the Lakers need every able body to get the maximum out of each practice and game.
Surprisingly, with all the time constraints placed on the during the China trip, Nash said the Lakers were able to get in a lot of productive work while in Asia.
“We did,” he said. “Everything is scheduled for us to practice, play the games and train while were on the floor, so we were able to use our court time wisely. Once thing I’m certain of is that we keep getting better with each game, each practice. While it may not show up in the box score, we are.”
Nash went on to say that the team has many more athletic players than a year ago and better shooters who should be able to open the floor for the bigs near the hoop.
“I think it’s a better fit with the players we have…We have a lot of new guys and we’re playing a different way this year. Getting our cohesion on the floor is going to take more time, but we’re improving each day. The focus has been good and the coaches have been running great sessions, so everything is moving on well.”
Even without Bryant, who could come back anywhere from game two of the regular season to Christmas Day. Nash admitted that the rest of the team has to get ready as if Bryant isn’t coming back, even though that is not the way of Bryant when a challenge is put in front of him.
“We’re not focusing on that,” said the 39-year-old former two-time NBA MVP. “When he he’s back, he’s back — and hopefully he’ll be back better than ever — but we just just have to focus right now on the guys who are with us on the court, and work as hard as we can to get ready for Opening Night.”