Updated 10:19 am, Monday, October 2, 2017
Photo: Connor Letourneau
As part of The Chronicle’s coverage of the Warriors’ trip to China for two exhibitions against Minnesota, Golden State beat writer Connor Letourneau is posting regular first-person accounts of what he observes.
SHENZHEN, China — It didn’t take the Warriors long Monday to realize just how excited Chinese fans are about their arrival here.
Moments after they stepped off Golden State’s charter at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, a team staffer pointed to his right and announced: “Hey, look over there!” Several players glanced over their shoulders to find dozens of basketball-crazed fans watching them through a big glass wall.
Those blue-and-gold-clad supporters were perhaps as eager to see the Warriors as the players were to get to bed. After a 14-hour, 20-minute flight, the team’s 160-person travel party touched down in Shenzhen at 8:13 p.m. local time (5:13 a.m. according to their body clocks). Head coach Steve Kerr had to travel separately due to a passport-processing delay and was expected to arrive even later.
Those who flew on the charter experienced the rock-star treatment. After walking past that slew of fans watching through the glass wall, players were greeted at customs by an employee, seemingly unable to separate hoops from work, filming them on a handheld camcorder.
In the walkway between customs and the team buses were hundreds of fans, many wearing Stephen Curry’s No. 30, who roared at the sight of Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. After a 45-minute ride through the city to the Four Seasons, the team found another energetic crowd in front of the hotel.
Most surprising to me was that the fans’ knowledge of the team wasn’t limited to the All-Stars.
Because he went with his wife and newborn daughter on the bus for team guests instead of riding with his teammates, backup point guard Shaun Livingston arrived at the hotel several minutes after the rest of the group. “S-Dot!” a few fans shouted, calling Livingston by his nickname.
Later, in the hotel lobby, a makeshift line at least a half-dozen people deep formed to take pictures with journeyman center Zaza Pachulia. One young boy in a Curry jersey shouted, “Zaza, I love you!” as soon as he saw the Georgian big man.
But Monday wasn’t all good vibes. Shortly after landing, players thumbed through their iPhones, reading up on a mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 58 people and wounded hundreds more.
“Hearts and prayers to the families of the Las Vegas tragedy,” Livingston tweeted. “#Stopthehate.”