Kevin Ding’s Diary from Beijing as Lakers Touch Down in China

BEIJING — It was a unique Lakers road-trip flight.

The team got a far larger charter jet than usual to accommodate all the extra team personnel, family and friends who joined what will be a week-long preseason stay in China for the NBA Global Games.

Some Lakers players spent the 12-hour flight bonding with girlfriends instead of teammates, while others couldn’t pass up the rare opportunity to connect with the Laker Girls, who don’t usually go on the road.

For your trusty reporter here, traveling via commercial jet, it wasn’t as interesting. Well, there was a guy sitting in my row wearing a rip-off non-NBA-merchandise sweatshirt with “LAKERS LOS ANGELES” (in that order) on the front.

The Lakers’ plane was met by fans at the airport and more at the team hotel—some fans staying beyond midnight in hopes of seeing players (or that one player). The Lakers’ hotel had a buffet waiting for them if they were hungry…and then a full team dinner right after that.

I joked on Twitter before leaving LAX that I’d be open to one of the insane Kobe diehard fans in China coming to pick me up at the Beijing airport. Alas, no one outside customs was holding up a “I LOVE KOBE / KEVIN DING IS OK, TOO” sign. So I suffered through a line for a taxi that extended far behind the “Estimated queuing time: about 60 minutes” sign.

I did learn while in line—via rotating video billboard—that Brad Pitt is the brand spokesman for Cadillac here in China, even though he is personally banned from visiting since he made the movie “Seven Years in Tibet.” Odd.

I also couldn’t help but notice one especially impatient man in line trying to pass a couple of tourists who stopped to take a photo next to the vending machine with beer in it. Muttering his disapproval, he actually stormed...

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