Located in the western part of this geographically diverse region, Chengdu is considered by many Chinese as one of the best travel spots in all of China for its relaxed pace and friendly people. The first day in Chengu commenced with a visit to a local Nike Store to unveil the new Nike Max Air Ambassador IV and new releases of his Nike Sportswear line. On arrival, LeBron James was presented with a gift from the city of Chengdu – a hand painted scroll depicting one of the area’s most treasured icons, the panda bear. James sat down in front of a crowd of journalists to discuss the release of his shoes and clothing collection. Joining him was Jason Petrie, who has worked with James in designing several shoes over the years, including these latest Ambassadors.
The two talked at length about how their working relationship has evolved over time, and how the two cooperate during the creative process. “We just hit it off with each other,” said James. “It’s like a teammate. You have to be able to work together and try to figure out the best way for the product to look good.” “He inspires us,” added Petrie. “Everything that LeBron does blends into the product.” Day two started with LeBron James visiting the Sichuan Sports University and coaching a select group of local high-school basketball players. After warming up together, the 48 players were split off into four groups to work on individual fundamentals with American and Chinese coaches, such as stationary dribbling and passing, as well as slash-and-kick and pass-and-move drills. At the end, James sat down in front of the entire group to answer questions from individual players. Most questions centered around ways to become a better basketball player. James, citing his personal experiences, stressed that hard work and repetition are the only ways to improve. “I always tell players to work hard,” said James. “For me, I try to work on all parts of my game so I can be a good all-around player. I always feel like I can get better.” Participants were impressed with the whole experience. “It was perfect, awesome,” described Yang Yizhen, a guard who played with LeBron for more than ten minutes during a half-court game. “The whole thing was just amazing.”