The Washington Wizards arrived in Rio de Janero, Brazil yesterday as part of the NBA Global Games movement and an upcoming exhibition match against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Jeremy Hyman has been conveniently chronologizing the team’s trip via a running blog on the Monumental Network website and so far, everyone seems to be having a blast.
“Kind of hectic. Long flight, but it’s amazing,” was how Martell Webster felt after landing in South America. Just a few hours after they concluded their first preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Wizards made like the McCallisters in “Home Alone,” quickly gathering themselves and skating off to the airport. A lengthy wait at the terminal, followed by a lengthy 5000 mile flight heading south had the Wizards seemingly spent, but as Wizards insider Michael Lee put it, they have no complaints.
As for the native Nene himself, the first Brazilian NBA’er returned home to an overwhelmingly warm reception.
“All the media wants to talk to him, I can sit back for the day. It’s like him going back to Denver, but this is bigger, because this is where he was born and raised and all of the tough struggles and the hard times that he had to go through to make it in the NBA. It’s great to see.” — John Wall
One thing that comes to the delight of Nene is the ability to address the media in his native tongue, saying that he doesn’t need to think as much when answering in Portuguese.
Nene had a moment to catch up with some old coaches and teammates at the Clube de Regatas do Flamengo facility where he shared a few laughs and hugs before the bombardment of reporters cornered him.
“It’s always good to be back in my home, in my country, to be with my people. It was very warm reception. When I was little, I grew up playing here. Like all the feeling, all the emotion is coming back. It’s no secret because of the way we live here. We live very simple. And we always respect people because the difficulty here is every day, so they know what they supposed to do to make people feel better.”
The Wizards are currently practicing at the HSBC Arena, preparing themselves for the match against the returning Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls. And for all you fans who were displeased with the TV blackout of the Nets game, the league has confirmed that Saturday night’s match will NOT be blacked out on NBATV this time around.