Mu Shu Pancakes and Professional Basketball


Hey Guys,

For those of you who care (if you’re reading, that’s most likely a yes), I’m living in a senior house for my final year of school.  Amongst its patrons include 14 of my dearest college friends.  We’re having a blast.

In case you were wondering, the house has 16 bedrooms.  In other words, two of those rooms were empty at the landlord’s dismay.

Over the weekend, things got a whole lot more interesting.  Enter Elliott, a 26-year-old Chinese Masters student, into a house of fraternity animals.

To this point, we only know a couple things about Elliott:

  1. He’s a finance student (maybe I’ll run into him in class)
  2. He likes Monster Energy drink and didn’t drink liquor until we got him to play beer pong.
  3. He thought our “kegerator” was magnificent.
  4. He bows to show respect.  (Finally, someone’s doing it to me.)
  5. He may or may not suffer from OCD.
  6. He’s in for an interesting year in Champaign.

Needless to say, Elliott will learn a lot about the world in his time on campus.  As his roommates, It’s our jobs to show him a little bit of American Hospitality.

In honor of Elliott’s American Adventure, enjoy this collection of tales about NBA players who have faced interesting, cultural encounters.

JR Smith’s time in China- Instead of withering away in the states during the 2011-12 NBA lockout, the New York Knick decided to bring his talents to China.  Suiting up for Zhejiang Chouzhou, Smith absolutely killed the competition abroad.  When he wasn’t putting up crazy stat lines, JR was probably ditching practice.  The guard apparently skipped town during 80 team meetings and practices throughout the duration of his contract.  Chouzho proceeded to withhold over $1 million from Smith’s salary.  Needless to say, Smith’s parties are suing them as we speak. If that wasn’t enough, Smith reportedly tried to fake injuries to get out of his contract once the NBA got its shit together.  Finally, Smith’s sister apparently got into it with some of the locals during one of the team’s games.  Take a look. Mental note: don’t drink the water at the Smith household…


J.J. Hickson’s Brief Stint in the Jewish Holyland–  While JR and family were obliterating the Chinese Basketball League, Hickson didn’t necessarily have long to enjoy the Land of Milk and Honey.  Signing a deal with Bnei HaSharon, the NBA veteran only lasted one game in Israeli basketball.  Unlike Smith, Hickson actually showed up to practice.  About 2 hours late.  The club then proceeded to cut him and Hickson returned to the States.  It should be noted that Hickson’s +/- was a staggering -44.  Needless to say, he’s not getting a statute of himself made in Israel anytime soon.

Sonny Weems’  Career in Mother Russia– Since leaving the NBA after the 2010-11 season, the former Arkansas Razorback has made a name for himself in Eastern Europe.  After playing in Lithuania (Zalgris Kaunas) during the lockout, Weems was offered to play for one of Europe’s most heralded franchises: CSKA Moscow.  For what it’s worth, Weems was brought into replace formidable NBA player and former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko.  It doesn’t stop there.  In early 2013, Weems and former Net Nenad Krstic starred in a Russian Papa John’s commercial.  It sounds like Weems is really enjoying his time abroad.

Darko Milicic’s first encounter with an American classic, Chinese food– After being selected 2nd overall in the 2003 NBA Draft ahead of All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Darko had difficulty transitioning both on and off the American Hardwood.  While his soft, interior play would lead to his demise, the then 18-year-old didn’t fall in love with greasy, Chinese food at first sight.  Eating at Mr. Chow’s, Darko was reportedly upset that there was no bread at the restaurant.  When brought a plate of Mu Shu pancakes, the Lithuanian phenom responded by saying “What the heck is this?”  While funny at the time, this story foreshadowed how strenuous the culture transition would be for Darko.  Up there with Sam Bowie as the biggest busts of all-time, I think those Mu-Shu pancakes still haunt Milicic’s dreams.

Rodman’s time in the Far East- While Rodman never actually signed a contract to play overseas during his playing career, the NBA Hall-of-famer and current crazy person has some interesting experiences involving basketball in the Far East.  In 2012, Rodman had the opportunity to play in an exhibition game in the Philippines. After the game concluded, Dennis met the man who brought him into this world in a bar in Manila. You might be wondering, why did Papa Rodman migrate to Southeast Asia?  Maybe, because he fathered 29 kids!  Needless to say, family gatherings must have featured there fair share of wedding dresses, tacky tattoos and painful-looking body piercings.


For most individuals, the aforementioned tale would be enough to be number one on this list.  Not for Dennis.  Earlier this past year, Rodman thought it would be a good idea to form a relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.  Apparently, Kim Jong Un loves basketball just as much as he enjoys torturing his own people. The former Bull brought three Harlem Globetrotters with him to travel to Pyongyang, the country’s capital.  Most definitely drunk the whole time, there’s no way Rodman could have realized the implications and dangers of his actions.

All in all, making the transitions between cultures can be quite difficult for some individuals.  Next time you meet someone who is experiencing this phenomena, go out of your way to help him or her out.  Preferably, before he or she insults the cuisine or makes his country enter a nuclear war.

Have a good Monday,




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