Even though most of these trips are, sadly, lockout-inspired, it's still pretty cool to see NBA stars head overseas for a bit of goodwill, some iffy basketball, and a few thousand units of shoes and apparel sold. And though China features a professional league featuring first class accommodations, it's still sometimes tough to brave the elements in a setting you're not used to. Even indoors.
Because apparently both Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and mercurial Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley suffered asthma attacks while playing for a barnstorming team called the "Kentucky Bisons" in Shaungyshan, China on Monday. You're allowed to smoke cigarettes in arenas over in China -- nobody would even show up for games if you couldn't in that cigarette-crazy country -- and Pierce and Beasley were taken aback. To say the least.
Here's the report, via a local newspaper, through an online translator, and via the fantastic China hoops blog NIUBball.com:
While playing in Shuangyashan, Heilongjiang province… Pierce and Beasley both suffered asthma attacks due to large amounts of fans smoking cigarettes inside the stadium. After the game, things got even more shocking when Beasley fell to the floor in his hotel and started to roll around in obvious pain, scaring everyone around half-to-death. At that point, there was no choice but to dial 120 (the number for an ambulance in China) and take him to the hospital.
Beasley had apparently hurt his wrist on a dunk attempt during one of the games, but using his typically spot-on Beasley-esque clarity and vision, decided to participate in a slam dunk contest following the injury. Thus, perhaps, a broken wrist. Bad news when your employer, caregiver, and insurance provider have all effectively locked you out of any contact, even for medical emergencies.
The asthma attack is scary as well. We can't be completely sure both Pierce and Beasley were doubled over and in real danger, for all we know they may have just needed to take a breather after trying to work through those hazy conditions, but it's a frightening thought never the less. Especially for Pierce, who is just 11 years removed from taking stab wounds to his chest and lungs.
We can't blame Chinese fans for doing what they've always done during these sorts of games, namely smokin' 'em if they got 'em. But barnstorming NBA players do need to know that things are a little, um, different over there. And to perhaps bring a painter's mask to help things go down a little smoother.
UPDATE: Pierce Tweeted on Wednesday night that he's never had asthma, as the Chinese paper claimed. He also apparently thinks that I write for a Chinese newspaper that had to be translated to English by NIUBball.com, because why else would he think that I was the original author of the story?
Or perhaps he just didn't that great a job at reading the post. Either way, happy travels, "Truth."