The Lakers went to the Great Wall on Sunday afternoon, a two-hour trek on a charter bus that started on the bustling streets of China’s capital, continued along a narrow two-way road near a quaint Chinese village with farmers pushing wheelbarrows, and ended at the Mutianyu portion of the Wall.
Two days before their exhibition game here, the Lakers didn’t go to the more popular Badaling or Juyongguan sections of the historic site, eschewing the crowds and amusement park-like environments for more solitude. Or so they thought.
Crowds immediately formed as they disembarked from their shuttle buses. Players were shepherded along by a dozen guards wearing black hats, white gloves and “RISK CONTROL” on their shirt sleeves.
Then the Lakers went up a thin pock-marked path that wound through a hundred kiosks and overzealous vendors. Scores of passers-by thrust out scraps of paper and begged players to take photos.
An elderly vendor yelled “Paulo, Paulo,” and proclaimed, “Big, big size” as he held out an extra-large T-shirt to Pau Gasol that said, “I climbed the Great Wall.”
Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times