Pro basketball superstar LeBron James is currently visiting Shanghai, China as a part of Nike’s “Festival of Sport,” a four-day celebration of the performance and culture of basketball. The “Festival of Sport” will cap off Nike’s latest “Just Do It” advertisement campaign launched at the start of the summer, designed not to “just speak to, but directly engage sport fans,” according to reports.
But James is not the only American-born hoop star to take his talents to the Far East of the globe for the major event. The Georgetown University men’s basketball team, one of the top 25 nationally ranked college basketball teams annually, was also invited to tour China as part of the event, and is scheduled to host a clinic on Aug. 20 at the Shanghai Stadium to help improve young Chinese players training and basketball skills.
According to Georgetown University Sports Information, the Hoyas’ clinic is expected to be the highlight of Nike’s event; Georgetown will also perform in a few exhibition games against teams from the Chinese Basketball Association. “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to bring the energy and excitement of Georgetown University to fans in China and give them with a way to celebrate their favorite sport,” said Michael Jackson, Nike's general manager of Basketball, Greater China and Global Business Development.
But playing basketball is probably the least exciting part about visiting China for each of the Hoyas’ players, especially considering neither one has been to the foreign country before. According to Georgetown Sports Information Director Mex Carey, the team quickly began a tour of China’s capital, Beijing, not long after their plane touched down on Aug. 14. He said the players couldn’t help to soak in the sights with amazement, especially during their tour of Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world which can hold up to one million people. The players also enjoyed being the center of attention during their visit to Tiananmen Square, where several people approached them to take pictures.
“I didn’t expect it,” said sophomore guard Markel Starks, a native of Accokeek, Md. “I should have because they said it might, but for people to just come up and take your picture or just want to be in the photo was unbelievable. When we were getting our team picture taken, the number of people just jumping in the picture with us was wild.”
The Team also visited the Forbidden City, which was formerly the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty during the 1400’s. The palace complex is reported to consist of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms, covering nearly 8 million square feet in range. “We’ve been walking for what feels like 17 days,” Starks said. “Just to see how the architecture of these buildings has been done and to see the delicacy of the Forbidden City … the amount of people is amazing. You don’t realize it. But everyone is having a good time and the players are really enjoying this experience.”