Amidst the ongoing NBA labor strife, it’s easy to lose focus and solely concentrate on the massive uncertainty and gloom surrounding the League and overshadowing everything else. But for Nike Basketball, it’s business as usual, lockout or not. As always, Nike and its athletes have spent the summer traveling to all corners of the globe, teaching basketball and inspiring kids in local communities. Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant ignited the global efforts, which eventually trickled down to Carmelo Athony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. With such a star-studded roster of athletes, it was only a matter of time until King James came through and left his mark on the other side of the world.
Above are photos from the 2011 LeBron James Basketball Tour, which kicked off its four-city journey yesterday afternoon in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Taipei World Trade Center. The first day’s focus was on two training sessions for two very special groups of basketball players, the children of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the Chinese Taipei U-19 national team. One of the most renowned charitable foundations in Taiwan, Eden provides services to disabled and other marginalized groups around the country.
In the afternoon, 18 kids who consistently exemplified good sportsmanship were selected from each Eden community to participate in a one-hour clinic with James. After warming up for ten minutes with two leading U.S. coaches, the group was joined by James, who came out to a loud ovation from the crowd and high fives from the kids. Shortly after, James joined the kids in various dribbling and shooting drills, where he could be heard encouraging the campers and even busting out a line or two of Mandarin, with hao qiu, meaning “nice play,” as his go-to.
Next, it was time for the U-19 team to take the court. Fresh off their first appearance in the U-19 World Championship since 1987, the team was split into two groups for shooting and offensive movement drills. LeBron then joined in on side and the two groups competed against each other in various shooting competitions. At the end, one MVP from each group was declared, each of whom was awarded with an autographed basketball.
Aimed at both promoting grassroots basketball and serving the needs of local communities in Greater China, the tour will span eight days over four cities, Taipei, Chengdu, Xi’an and Shanghai. In addition to providing elite-level basketball instruction to each region’s basketball community, the tour will also focus on its “Just Do It” campaign, which teaches children the importance of sports as a way to develop as a human being and accomplish their dreams. Great stuff from Nike and LeBron.
(H/T to Nike Basketball)