Togetherness Taking Hold as Los Angeles Lakers Travel to Great Wall of China

BEIJING — There is one thing to be gained from a group perspective in coming all this way.

It was seen in Pau Gasol sticking with Steve Nash as the two old guys with undependable bodies pushed quickly up to the highest point they could find on the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China.

It was seen in new team energizers Jordan Farmar and Nick Young paying a street vendor on the climb up to the Great Wall—Farmar’s treat—for them each to get hilarious pictures of them sitting on a camel. UCLA and USC would have sat on the camel together if not for the camel owner balking and separating them.

Togetherness was lacking with the Lakers last season, and the hope has been that an underdog spirit and the absence of Dwight Howard’s ego would lead the 2013-14 Lakers to build a unity that will be needed to offset the loss of Howard’s huge talent.

These players had dinner together again Saturday night, same as they did Friday night upon arriving in Beijing, same as they did Wednesday night before playing in Las Vegas.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t even go to the Great Wall on Sunday, and neither did Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry or Marcus Landry. Many players had family or friends with them. There was a feeling of togetherness with the Lakers anyway.

Even after a draining traffic jam on the way back to the team hotel made for an unwelcome three-hour tour after leaving the Wall, it was a good day, a very good day, together.

Bryant’s absence meant more of an opportunity for Gasol to do his thing, too.

Gasol was the one to get the cadre of Chinese security guards at the Great Wall. He got to remember being the main man on the 2008 Spanish Olympic team that won a silver medal in the very same Beijing basketball arena where the Lakers practiced Sunday morning.

It feels like a long time since Gasol won thos...

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