The college basketball regular season tips off Friday, and while there is a full slate of games throughout the day, the last matchup of the night will actually take place Saturday afternoon in Shanghai when No. 21 UCLA takes on Georgia Tech in the Pac-12 China Game (Friday at 11:30 p.m. EST on ESPN).
This is the third year of the Pac-12 China Game, which has served as the opening game of the Pac-12 men's basketball regular season. When Washington beat Texas in the inaugural game in 2015, the Pac-12 became the first U.S. sports league, professional or collegiate, to host a regular-season game in China. Stanford beat Harvard in the second annual game last season.
UCLA and Georgia Tech arrived in Shanghai on Sunday for a weeklong trip to China, which will encompass more than just the regular-season opener for both teams. From a trip to Hangzhou to tour Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce goliath and one of the most valuable companies in the world, to an afternoon at Shanghai Disneyland, it's a trip both teams will likely remember far more than the result of the game.
"We took a trip to Australia 20 years ago when I was at Arizona, and my teammates and I still talk about that to this day," said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, who was a walk-on freshman on Arizona's 1997 national championship team. "This will be something that 20 years from now these guys will be talking about. You don't get these opportunities too often. It just shows you how great that orange ball is and the opportunities that it can give you."
Tuesday, Nov. 7
Hangzhou to Shanghai
With UCLA, Georgia Tech and the Pac-12 Conference delegation departing Hangzhou for Shanghai on Tuesday, Bill Walton wants to soak in his final moments in Hangzhou by doing Tai chi next to the West Lake.
Bill Walton has attracted a crowd near Hangzhou's West Lake as he goes through a Tai chi session.
Bill Walton is a worldwide treasure.
No, Bill, you can't ride your bike from Hangzhou to Shanghai. It's over 100 miles.
Bill Walton, who won two national championships at UCLA in 1972 and 1973, catches up with UCLA assistant coach Tyus Edney, who a national championship with the Bruins in 1995.
UCLA and Georgia Tech are not only transporting their luggage to Shanghai but enough Gatorade and water last a week.
UCLA and Georgia Tech are on their way to Shanghai.
Monday, Nov. 6
Alibaba headquarters tour (Hangzhou, China)
Joe Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba, who recently reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets that includes the option to acquire controlling interest of the NBA franchise in 2021, arrives to meet Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Pac-12 deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Jaime Zaninovich.
Larry Scott congratulates Joe Tsai on his foray into the NBA before they sit down to talk at the Alibaba Headquarters.
Bill Walton and his wife Lori greet Joe Tsai and welcome him to the NBA family before a VIP roundtable with dignitaries from UCLA, Georgia Tech and the Pac-12 Conference.
Joe Tsai has a list of the dignitaries surrounding him at the table before he addresses them
Joe Tsai takes a selfie with the Georgia Tech players and coaches.
UCLA presented Joe Tsai with a jersey at the Alibaba gym and later Tsai stopped midway through his speech to the Bruins to acknowledge freshman guard Jaylen Hands from San Diego. Tsai's wife and children live in La Jolla and they saw Hands play the Bishop's School while Hands was at Foothills Christian last year.
Joe Tsai takes a selfie with UCLA players and coaches.
Joe Tsai shows Jaylen Hands some highlights on his phone. Hands was speechless that Tsai knew who he was. "I'm really surprised," Hands said "It hasn't hit me yet. It was unbelievable."
After taking group pictures, Joe Tsai put on sneakers and a shirt and started practicing with UCLA.
Here's the parting gift given to players and coaches (white) as well as to school and conference officials (red) as they left Alibaba.
UCLA and Georgia Tech get a demonstration of what Alibaba is as Joe Tsai takes a picture of one of the player's shoes and it instantly shows up as an item that can be bought on the site.
Joe Tsai, who played lacrosse at Yale and recently purchased a professional expansion lacrosse team in San Diego, talks about the importance of sports and education in his life.