The NBA has long been a staple in China as it was especially brought to light when Yao Ming was selected in the 2002 NBA Draft and the league has continued to expand overseas.
The Lakers are set to make another trip there in the 2019 NBA preseason with a pair of games set against the Brooklyn Nets. After a successful preseason debut against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers are looking to build on that performance as well as their chemistry as a whole.
As someone who has been there plenty of times, James is excited to make the trip once again and following the preseason debut, he spoke about the respect and love that exists for the NBA in China, via Lakers:
“Just the level of respect that they have for us as basketball players and how much they open up their culture and their arms for us. I’ve been there so many times and the level of excitement that they have for the game of basketball and us in general is very overwhelming and it’s special. So I think for some of the guys who haven’t been there I think they should take it in full swing.”
Of course, since this time, there has been some developments regarding China and whether or not the games will actually take place. Following a tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and NBA commissioner Adam Silver supporting his right to free speech, China has chosen to not air the games between the Lakers and Nets on TV or the internet.
According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, there is some concern about the games being outright cancelled:
There is concern the two games between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers will be cancelled, a person in China with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive situation.
Whether or not the games ultimately take place, James’ appreciation for China and their love for the game surely remains.
Experiencing new places and cultures is something not everyone gets the chance to do, so James wanting his teammates to truly take everything in makes sense.