BEIJING – Day 2 started with a 6 a.m. workout. It felt great to get my workout out of the way early but all it really did was allow me to eat a great big breakfast. From breakfast we went directly to what turned out to be an impressive practice led by Vinny Del Negro.
The players were enthusiastic, and the drills were crisp. The team focused on defensive communication and getting early scores off the fast break. Last season, the Clippers were very effective at getting early postups for Blake and this should be a primary weapon for them again this year.
As much as I enjoyed the hard work, the best part was that Chris Paul played a full practice. He says he’s feeling great and is excited to be back practicing. There is no hiding the fact that this is a different team with him at the helm, so it is great to see him back. I don’t think that he will play in any games until we get back to Los Angeles, but he sure looked good on the court.
It was actually a little surprising to see the team look so good after a grueling day of travel. It is a testament to how enthusiastic everybody is. But there was no rest after practice as we all packed up for a visit to the Great Wall. Unfortunately the media bus that I was riding on broke down, although it was only about a half-hour delay until they found another bus to continue our journey.
The Great Wall is one of man’s greatest achievements. As much as you may read about it and be awed by the statistics, there is nothing like seeing it in person. It is more than 6,000 km long running along the top of a mountain range. The wall is about 20 feet high and wide enough to have a 10-foot road along the top. Built entirely by hand and started more than 3,000 years ago, it was manned at one point by more than 1 million soldiers.
As impressive as the Great Wall certainly is, I believe the players were more taken by the bazaar along the path leading up to the wall itself. Everything you can imagine was for sale: hats, T-shirts, chopsticks, books, or just about anything a tourist might buy.
The two standout shoppers were clearly DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Their negotiating skills were honed to a fine science and they walked away with some amazing deals.
Now for some advice after watching them negotiate for about an hour on our walk back to the buses from the Great Wall … never pay what the shopkeepers are asking. Your best deal is about half the asking price. Also, make sure that you give yourself enough time when you visit the Great Wall because there is a great deal to see. And make sure that you give yourself enough time to negotiate your best deal on what to buy along the way. And if you don’t have a lot of time for negotiating, just take Blake or DeAndre with you and they will get you a great deal in no time.