Left for Berlin on Saturday late afternoon. Carole and McKenna took me to the airport, as always it is tough leaving them. It does not get any easier leaving your loved ones. Once settled in on the plane I watched tape of our last couple of pre season games. Watched tape with Pech for awhile. Did some reading as well. Unfortunately I did not sleep at all on the flight.
We arrived in Berlin safe and sound. Stayed at the Ritz Carlton which is right around the corner from the hotel that I stayed in on my last trip to Berlin two years ago before joining the Raptors. Berlin is a beautiful city and the weather was perfect, not too cold. Great for walking around the city and seeing the sites and sitting at the sidewalk cafes. Mostly everyone speaks English which makes it easier for everyone of us that cannot speak other languages. Had a bite to eat once we arrived at the hotel and afterwards we checked in and went to our rooms. Luggage was already in our rooms, the Germans are very organized and take pride in their work. Later that day we had practice. The guys were a little sloppy which was to be expected. Everyone was tired as well as jet lagged.
After practice we ate at the hotel and then Mike O’Koren and I went and did a little site seeing. I fought hard not to sleep at all throughout the day. Then I hit the bed and was asleep immediately. Had a wake up call and went to the coaches meeting. Practice at the O2 Arena. The arena is brand new and is a thing of beauty, it has all of the modern technology and then some. Once practice was over with there was a clinic for the Special Olympics. Andray, Dom, Dee, Etan, Dermarr, Juan, Javale and Pech coached the kids. I am not sure who had more fun the players or the kids. I know that I had a blast coaching them and it was an experience that I will never forget. Once that clinic was over Darius asked me to help him out with a clinic for four Lithuanian kids. I stayed with him for his clinic and then went back to the hotel for dinner and some sleep.
Game day. Coaches meeting, shootaround. Relaxed at the hotel, went for a walk and packed up for our flight out after the game to Barcelona. Took the first bus over to the arena. It felt odd taking the bus as I always cab it to the games during the regular season with some of the players to get some work done before everyone else arrives. The Hornets stung us good, they stung us early and often. We were horrible. We are going to miss BWood in the middle, he had a great year for us last season and he was really looking forward to building on it. Antawn did not play due to his knee contusion from the Dallas game. Antonio did not suit up because of swelling in his knee. Juan is out with a slight muscle tear in his calf and Nick Young is back in DC working on getting his knee right. Nick has a “floating particle” in it. That does not sound good to me. I am not a doctor but it seems as if it would need to get scoped to remove the particle. Gil did not make the trip either as he is re-habbing his knee still. If we could get everyone healthy at the same time we could be very good.
It seems as if the injury bug has bitten us again. Linton Johnson has a broken toe (tripped on some luggage). How crazy is that.
We left for Barcelona after the game. Had to go to the airport and through security. Got on the plane with a bunch of the NBA people as well as the referees. The flight to Barcelona was a little over two hours. Once we landed we hopped on buses to the terminal and then went through the terminal and got on some other bus to the hotel. We got into Barcelona after three. To the hotel around four thirty and the bags did not get to our rooms until after six. Needless to say everyone is very zombie like. The funny thing is that we had a police escort from the airport to the hotel and the police didn’t go over 30 kilometers an hour. I mean at four in the morning there is nobody on the road. Our police escorts to the arena and back are no quicker either.
Had a breakfast meeting and practice. Went across the street to a shopping mall and bought a couple of items. I bought four items by credit card and they had to ring up each item on a seperate receipt. Imagine that. I tried to explain to them that there must be an easier way ( like one receipt) with my broken Spainish. No luck. I have not found too many English speaking people here, especially at the hotel. Met for dinner and then I went up to my room to get online and watch TV. Needless to say I had to have a technician come up and take care of my problems. The cable for the internet was broken off at the end and the TV got one station. To my surprise these problems were rectified in a matter of minutes.
Woke up this morning more tired than I have been in some time. This schedule is something else and the season hasn’t even started yet. It is going to take some time to get back on track. Had a good practice, the guys were very competitive and worked hard. Came back for lunch and some rest. I have not napped at all on this trip but today I took a two hour nap, couldn’t go any longer without some rest. Tonight we have our team dinner, tomorrow night is the game with a nine o’clock pm tip. After the game we will fly back to DC. Should get in around nine on Saturday morning. We will have the rest of the day off and report ready to go on Sunday. Practice again on Monday and Tuesday before going on the road again to San Antonio. After San Antonio we will go to Columbus, Ohio to play our last pre season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is a trip that Randy Ayers should be looking forward to, as he coached at Ohio State and more importantly he will get to see his mom. It is always a GREAT day when you can be with loved ones.
Take care have a blessed day and don’t forget to let your loved ones how much you love them and how much they mean to you.