"Welcome to the Magical Mystical Tour Part II..."...

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January 8, 2008...the Day After the season ended quietly...

Got some GREAT beauty sleep last night, this morning and a nap this afternoon...It's amazing after all these years when a season is abruptly "over", how the order and discipline of daily practices and here the novelty of "controlled" environment is no different in the psychosis of a coach without a practice, competition and playoff to prepare for anymore...There is such a remarkable void, it's hard to describe unless you're a player, coach and parent who experiences this phenomena themselves...I learned a long time ago from my Father, Coach Pete Newell, that is always important to sit down and reflect upon the season completed, reflecting upon positives and learning from the not-so-positives, which quite frankly are defined as: "shouldas...wouldas...couldas..."...once that is done then the visualization of preparing for another opportunity begins to slowly enter the daily thought process, allowing for one's mind to expand the knowledge learned from the many lessons of "yesterseason..."...

So, this means I now get to have "fun" again, sharing with you my humor, if you wish, on what is different between our cultures and how to prepare for a trip in the future to China...

Team Dinner:

I got a call while working on this blogit from Pancake, our translator, inviting me to the Team Dinner...now, you have to understand something about this culture...Pancake tells me the "best plans are no plans...the best schedule is NO schedule...", and Lordy let me tell you, after experiencing first hand the changes in schedules and meeting times, his call this afternoon was NO surprise...in fact, I thought he was calling because I was late for practice or a meeting!! Anyway, he invited me and DaJuan Tate and his wife to join in the celebration (?) of the season past...Number One: I have never had an end-of-the-season celebration when one finishes out of the Playoffs and 3 teams from last in a 16 team League...so I accepted and let me tell you this: the Chinese KNOW HOW to forget and move on from the "day(s)" before, let me tell you...I have NEVER in my basketball life experienced so much forgiveness, happiness and encouragement as I did at this dinner...The media was there, the Fans Support Group of Jilin was there (about 20 core people), myself, the team, the coaches, GM and Ownership Group...I was toasted and celebrated as the "old man" who came to Changchun and through many off court changes stayed and helped us learn many lessons..."...I gotta tell you, that humbled me more than any reward from any season previous in my basketball life as I was caught blindsided by their feelings...That's one thing I have learned daily: "don't put ANY expectations on reactions to your comments, suggestions or recommendations...", as the answer will NEVEDR follow your words...This one lesson I have learned well, off the court and MOST definitely on the court when I "suggested" a Timeout here and there...I never once suffered frustration as much as irritation this season, but then again, I am a "visitor" and the lessons I can teach to the Head Coach and the team are opportunities for all to excel in their professional lives as basketball players and coaches...The dinner: unbelievable...it was held at the Hotel I am staying in right now, The RedBuds Hotel in Changchun City...Where to begin on the entree's...Let's put it this way: there were 9 dishes and NOT ONE WAS BAD...plus my chopsticks (plastic) never once lost a drop...meaning I have taken the bio mechanics of using these utensils to another level...I know this, because I hear the table discussing how a "lefthander", American uses these sticks "so well and freely..."...Pancake then revealed to them that I went to school in Hawaii many years ago and "learned" there, plus coaching in Korea and Japan helped my "dexterity"...let's put it this way: no way will I ever "starve" because of chopsticks at the table!!! The mood was festive, forgiving as aforementioned, but above all it was a wonderful example of "praising" the players for their efforts and courage...I agree with that surmise, as I truly believe the players played to their level of experience and skill, unfortunately their skills were NOT at the level of their competitions...I was asked later in the evening by both the Head Coach and Owner, Mr. Qu, to come back next season, as there will be many changes and they appreciated what I brought to the team...I told them both that I was going to interview with two teams for a Head Coach job and that I would call and let them know what's on the table, that I wouldn't mind being back to help take the Jilin Northeast Tigers to the "next" level in '08-'09...stay tooned...

Things you WON'T see very much of in China:

1) Planes flying overhead in most cities in China, with the exception of Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong (haven't been there but would imagine there are a number of Boeings and Airbuses in airspace hovering Hong Kong on takeoffs and landings...)...I mean, I have YET to see any military aircraft flying overhead or even hearing a "fast" supersonic jet leaving a jet stream in its tail...

2) Birds...I know that sounds strange, but I mentioned in earlier blogits, that I was astonished to NOT see birds in most of the cities we visited when playing...and China has a lot of "Pear Trees", let me tell you...Not sure why of this phenomena, but it's real...

3) Hearses...Mortuaries...and Funeral Processions...now this is understandable, given the vast cultural differences in acknowledging life and "releasing" one's soul to the afterlife through cremation...

4) Pet stores...hmmm, that is A surprise to me here in Changchun, as I would think there would be more Pet Stores than restaurants that specialize in "Canine Cuisine"...I know, I know, but this is considered a "delicacy" in China...I haven't...I won't...and Lord help me if someone tries to "sneak" a morsel of such on my plate someday...

5) Sit Down Commodes...in public restrooms...now THAT is a "shock" to the natural digestive system when you are on a bus and the courtesy "pit" stop for occupants treats you to this cultural SHOCK...needless to say, on LONG road trips, I skipped eating anything that needed digesting, thus allowing me the dignity of standing upright to relieve myself...Whew, this took way too long to describe in a "G Rating" kind of way...

6) Paper Towels in public restrooms...always advisable to "bring" your own tissues to dry your hands after washing...it amazes me when I walk into a Men's Room and there are signs that "encourage" water conservation, thus meaning that most Nationals here, of the male gender, do NOT wash their hands...I probably "spent" a whole lotta Yuan on small package tissues for my "Coach's Bag"...I also was very careful NOT to shake hands and if I did, the "hand sanitizers" from Rite-Aide was applied soon after...

7) Tall Glasses in Restaurants...the glasses for water, juice and soda pop (I don't drink that stuff) are perfect for a Junior-age patron...I've never exercised more in my life eating lunch or dinner to refill my small glass with juice...

8) Ambulances...they're out there I swear, but I've only seen a half dozen on the streets during the day over the last 4 months...go figure...I know this though, the way pedestrians cross the street and the way the Taxis "control" the streets of ANY and all city streets in China, there's not a high demand at this time...

9) In city Gas Stations...visualize this: a very very large city ANYWHERE in China, and NOT seeing a gas station within 5 MILES either direction!! Yes, this is true...They are usually located close to the freeways BEFORE the toll roads (you must pay to travel on any major thorough fare outside the city proper...Can YOU imagine THAT planning and action in the Puget Sound? I can't for the life of me...Anyway, I don't know "when" and where the thousands of automobiles go for gas in this city and others, as it boggles the mind that you would see more KFCs and McDonalds than you would Petrol locations...thus said, take a Taxi, forget about "renting" a car in China...

10) Grocery Stores...forget about it...there are WalMarts and the Mom and Pop stores that are present all over Changchun (2 WalMarts) and hundreds of the others...if you have money (Yuan), then one shops at WalMart...they have ALL the grocery items that AREN'T in the USA stores...and let me tell you, these stores are PACKED...progress will diminish the "value" of neighborhood stores over the next 10 years, I believe...what a shame...

Okay, Part III of my "reflections" on this culture begins again tomorrow...hope this helps all understand the VAST cultural differences between major powers...

Saw where the Huskies went down to the wire at Hec Ed vs. Wazzu, only to lose...Mark this: Lo Romar WILL pull off a couple of upsets this season in the Pac 10 that will bring extreme parity in the League by the end of the season...Shucks, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Dawgs UPSET the Cougs IN Pullman...One other note: I am so happy that the UW has FINALLY acknowledged the legendary contributor to the modern game of basketball in naming the practice court at the UW after Coach Marv Harshman...He is one of the true contributors to the modern game and this is qualified by my Father, Coach Pete Newell, who holds Marv in the HIGHEST ESTEEM...I remember back in the day, when Marv was two years removed from the game holding a "kids" camp at the WAC and he was in a Handball Court there teaching 10 year olds how to pass!! If that isn't what a contributor to the game is, I don't know what is...Take care, safe travels...Coach tom

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