With 15 bags in tow and a 12-hour flight ahead from LAX to Soul, Korea, Team Howard was ready for the long trip. Three countries in 11 days with our first stop in Seoul, Korea rounding out the trip with Taipei, Taiwan, and finally Beijing, China. With a night flight the crew watched one movie and slept the rest of the trip.
I think this is my fifth or sixth summer traveling overseas with Dwight and each year the organization and food has gotten better. The majority of the tours overseas are with Adidas. This 11-day trip was to showcase Dwight as the face of Adidas Training in Asia alongside his new shoe release. I don’t think people realize how demanding summers and these tours are for Dwight. Every stop on the trip is organized down to the minute and downtime is normally filled with meeting fans, business meetings or eating. Don’t get me wrong he loves the tours and does a great job not only helping his brand and Adidas but also grabbing new fans along the way.
I’m not saying this just because I work for Dwight but his growth with crowds and clinics has gotten better each summer of travel. I think this is part of the growth and practice but also Dwight understanding how positive his impact is on everyone he comes in contact with. Before I get into the tour stops and clinics I wanted to say that helping Dwight reach his potential is a team effort, especially on these overseas trips. I think this trip of 11 days we had 1 day where we were not able to get to a weight room or court. You also have to remember that Dwight just can’t go to the gym across the street and workout its always an event because of who Dwight has become. It’s a full time job with Dwight and everyone on his team wears a few hats to help Dwight make every trip a success. Here is brief run down of our 11-day trip with some insight from someone who sees what Dwight goes through on an overseas trip.
August 17th we arrived in Seoul, Korea at 4:30am. The day of appearances didn’t start until 9am so we had time to eat and grab a quick workout. Dwight was well rested from the plane ride so we did about an hour and a half of core, stretching, and activation work. The first two days were all in Korea and most the events took place at a mall that was about 15 minutes from the hotel. The fans in every country act different and I would describe the fans in Korea as very intense and excited but overall very polite. The mall was very organized and a huge banner of Dwight was covering the front window while hosting a 3V3 tournament named “All in for Dwight.” Both the court and mall were covered with people of all ages with excited fans overfilling the halls. You would have thought the Beatle’s or the President of the United States was making an appearance. As soon as Dwight walked out on the court the crowd went crazy. The two days in Korea were scheduled from 9am to 4pm with a few short breaks for food and a few quick rest stops. I’ve spent hours, days and even weeks with Dwight on movie sets and commercials and I don’t know how he keeps his energy level and smile on 24/7. I guess that’s why he is superman. Even with the long days of work, little rest and intense workouts it is hard to fall asleep from the jet lag.
One highlight of this stop was helping Dwight train some of the local basketball kids. You always lose a little in the translation but it’s great to see the kids’ work hard and how training and basketball can have such a universally positive impact on the youth around the globe. On our last afternoon in Seoul, local talent treated Dwight to a Kung Fu and dance show. The last part of the show was Dwight breaking a board; after being taught the proper technique.
The second stop was in Taipei, Taiwan just a short 2-hour flight away. We got a quick workout in the AM and then left for Taiwan. Taipei was opening the Adidas 101 basketball court in the center of town for locals to play whenever they want. The courts are state-of- the -art complete with lighting. The event was scheduled for the next night so we stopped by to see the court and get prepped for the big event on site.
Upon arrival in Taipei we did a fitness clinic in the Fitness Factory, a local gym that caters to some of the athletes and your more focused fitness enthusiasts. The clinic was about two hours and I got to showcase some of the exercises Dwight does and let the athletes interact with Dwight during the workout. It was great to see Dwight choose some progressions to push the kids safely yet still have fun at the same time. After the appearance, Dwight did some interviews and interacted with some of the members of the gym during their workout. Dwight doesn’t need a script; he will normally follow what the appearance expects of him and then just does Dwight, which is all about having fun with the people, fans, and athletes.
No matter where Dwight goes his presence is lasting and always positive. That evening we were able to get another workout in on the court at a local gym nearby. Finding courts that are safe and not filled with people are hard to come by when traveling overseas. When we get the chance, we take advantage of an opportunity to get on a court. The next day there were AM interviews scheduled and autograph sessions by the media and then more interviews by newspapers around Taiwan. The big event as I mentioned earlier was at the 2 courts that Dwight was helping to unveil to the public. The weather wasn’t cooperating very much and a Monsoon was coming over Taipei but you wouldn’t know it by all the scooters and activity around town. I guess they are used to the rain and wind and it was just business as usual to them. As the festivities got started and just as Dwight stepped out of the van Mother Nature reared her head and drenched us all. Even with the rain the event ran as smooth as possible and it turned out to be a very successful night. A few minutes of hiding under the tent and running for cover ended with Dwight shooting baskets with the emcee and holding a drawing for a pair of his new shoes and tickets to the upcoming Rockets vs. Pacers pre-season game.
Chengdu, China was our next stop and a very quick stop. Dwight was releasing his first Rockets’ jersey to the China public on their equivalent to the American eBay. A lot of media and question and answ er sessions filled the day. We were able to get our workout in and also get away with just team Howard for a dinner and recovery for the last leg of the trip, which was Beijing. Chengdu was cool but the time we spent there was mostly in the hotel for media, interviews, and eating. I didn’t mind the downtime since it had been non-stop since we left the USA.
Beijing, China was a short hour flight. I know people think LA, ATL and NYC are crowded but until you experience big cities in China, you don’t know what busy is. Dwight got a few great workouts in while in Beijing; had a 3v3 All in Dwight tournament at two different spots at two courts made by Adidas just for the event. They shut down part of the city for the first event and the second was at the site of the 2008 Olympics Gold Medal Game that Dwight won a Gold medal in. Adidas set up and constructed an outdoor court just for the event. Dwight broke through an Adidas poster of him and ran onto the court with the kids screaming and media snapping pictures. The local talent played 3V3 for an hour while Dwight entertained the crowd. The final part was a basketball clinic by Dwight and some local coaches hired by Adidas.
Overall we had a great trip and plenty of hard work and laughs during the 11-day Asia trip. It was great to see and meet the employees of Adidas in Asia and seeing Dwight address the staff and thanking them for all their hard work was pretty cool. Dwight understands that he may be the face of Adidas and fitness in Asia but he knows that these employees are what make the brand successful. A month left of summer training and it’s go time for Team Howard.