Paul Pierce and the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t come away with in their preseason excursion to China, but the cultural experience the team gained from the trip for the team made it all worthwhile.
The Clippers dropped both games to the Charlotte Hornets, with 106-94 loss at the Shenzhen Universiade Center and a 113-71 loss at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. Although the outcomes of these preseason NBA Global Games were not favorable for the Clippers, the activities Doc set up for his team created memorable experiences for Pierce and the rest of the Clips brass.
In the first game of the trip against the Hornets in Shenzhen, Paul came off the bench in favor of Wesley Johnson and logged 15 minutes of action. The Truth was held scoreless in the contest, but he did manage to record an assist, a rebound and a blocked shot.
Paul and head coach Doc Rivers also shared a birthday celebration on that day. Before the game when the Clippers were out sightseeing the city, the team got together and sang them Happy Birthday.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 13, 2015
Having the same birthday is just one of the similar traits Paul and Doc share with each other. Pierce joked that as the two get older they both start to get along better, possibly due sharing the same zodiac signs.
“Maybe it’s just the way we are,” Pierce said of their similar traits. “Maybe it’s our signs. We’re both Libras, so Libras kind of clash, I’ve noticed. My mom is a Libra and I used to clash with her a lot. I didn’t really appreciate her until I got older. I think as I got older with Doc, I learned to appreciate him also.”
Doc also compared himself with Paul and pointed out how their similarities have contributed to their understanding of each other over the years, which has helped with Paul buying into Rivers philosophy on the court.
“We’re born on the same day, so I think we’re both the same guy,” Rivers said. “By the end of the year, I remember him walking in the office and he says, ‘I’m doing what you want, and you’re right,’ and he bought into it. It helped him, but he didn’t have to do that, because he was already an All-Star. He could’ve clearly said, ‘I’m already an All-Star, I’m not changing.’”
Chris Paul said that both Pierce and Rivers are guys that play very important roles in the Clipper culture, with Doc playing the role of the leader and Pierce providing the veteran voice and experience needed in the locker room. He also noted that their championship experience together should certainly serve the Clips well.
“Doc, obviously the coach is our leader,” the Clipper point guard said. “He’s a guy that we can trust in during the games, and Paul is a guy who’s new to our team but just has a voice that everyone listens to. He has that veteran leadership. Both of those guys have a championship, and luckily for us, they won it together. So it’s great to hear those experiences.”
Pierce and his teammates also contributed in helping out with the Clippers NBA Cares Clinic at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. They spent all afternoon at the clinic teaching kids in Shanghai fundamental basketball skills with the entire team and coaching staff chipping in to help. DeAndre Jordan spoke to the clinic attendees on behalf of the Clippers and thanked all the kids for coming to the event.
“I want to thank you guys for having us out,” Jordan said to the kids and to everyone who put on the event. “Me and my teammates and our organization really appreciate it. It’s amazing how basketball brings many different people together, and we’re all honored to be here today to play with you guys. So we’re really excited.”
In between the Clippers games in China they were able to get out and experience some of the culture this area had to offer in Shanghai. Doc coordinated a visit for the team to the Jade Buddha Temple, which was built by Shanghai Buddhists in China in 1882. The players sat in the temple and listened to the history of the Jade Temple from the perspective of one of the Buddhists. They were also able to walk around, go to each room in the temple and learn about Buddhism’s core values in the process.
Inside of the 133-year-old Jade Buddha Temple, the team was able to share a moment of spirituality, which was a relaxing change of place in the middle of a hectic trip for the Clippers across the globe. Doc said that the spiritual aspect of the trip would be used as a learning experience for his team, as the core values of Buddhists relate to those important in a team environment.
“It’s not the religious part of it, but I like the spiritual part of it,” Rivers said in an interview with the Orange Country Register. “Part of their beliefs is humility and team and working together. A lot of what they stand of is what teams have to be – dream in your heart and it’ll come true. I thought it was a neat place for us to try and come together and do something quietly.”
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 12, 2015
Rivers decided that when creating his teams travel itinerary that this part of the trip would be mandatory for all players. It ended up turning out well as he noticed positive responses from his whole team and he really felt like it was a great overall experience for everyone.
“Our guys actually liked it. You never know when you make something mandatory,” Rivers said. “That was my mandatory trip that I had planned for them, and they loved it. They got to do some meditation. It was just really a cool, neat little trip for us.”
Pierce kept up the tradition at the Jade Temple by following a routine in front of the building where there is a dragon statue that can be used to make wishes. The belief is that once you rub the monument three times and place a coin into the scales, you can make a wish. To no one’s surprise, No. 34 wished for a Clipper championship.
With all the excitement in between, Paul and the Clippers did still have another game to play to round out the trip. However, the Clips were unable to beat the Hornets for the second time in China. Paul came off the bench in a similar role that he saw in the first game in Shenzhen. No. 34 logged 14 minutes of action coming off the bench again for Johnson. Pierce mustered three points, three rebounds and a block in the contest.
In both of the games, Blake Griffin was able to put together solid performances. The power forward recorded a near triple-double in the team’s first game of the trip, scoring 13 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and in the second contest Griffin recorded 14 points, 14 rebounds and three assists. Chris Paul, who was held out of action in the first game, suited up for the second and logged 26 minutes. CP3 led the team in points with 17 and also in assists with six.
After two games in China, The Truth and the Clippers are slated to return home to Los Angeles for the rest preseason action. Even though the Clips struggled on the court in their trip, Doc Rivers sees the voyage to China as being something that benefited the players off the court from a team-building standpoint. With Pierce and many other new facers around the team entering this season, chemistry will be a necessity for this squad with championship aspirations.
“Team building, it’s been great for us,” Rivers said. “We went to the Buddhist temple a couple days ago, I went to Tencent in Shenzhen. Our guys have been going out to different restaurants together and just enjoying each other. The one thing about going abroad for all teams, Charlotte as well, I think it allows you to team build sooner than it would at home, so mission accomplished there.”
Paul and the Clippers will have some work to do before the preseason comes to a close as their next contest is back at the Staples Center on Oct. 20 against the defending champion Golden State Warriors at 7:30 p.m. PT.