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Pooh Update

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default Re: Pooh Update

Post by DoubleDipper on Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:21 am

Okay, bear with me on this as it's very lengthy, but it's appropriate for the current COVID-19 crisis.

While in touch with Pooh recently, he sent me the transcript of his interview with journalist Alex Squadron of SLAM about his journey back to China to begin his eighth season playing professionally there.

Now 36 years-old with a lovely wife, Chyvonne, and two young sons, Pooh is now done with his imposed isolation, and the CBA is hoping to begin play the first week of May, likely in empty arenas for quite a while.
Pooh wrote:Wassup! Grace, peace and blessings. Are you ready to keep your butt in the house? Are you ready to worship God and not worry? Are you ready to start focusing and bettering yourself? I hope so, because right now, we see that our lives are way bigger than sports.

OK, about the last week. So, I flew from LA to Taipei almost two weeks ago. First of all, LAX was empty. That was kind of weird. My flight was at 11:45 pm and I pulled up to the airport at like, 10:50 [laughs]. For me to leave [my house] around the time I left and get to the airport at that time was crazy. Everybody got their face mask on and this and that. Everybody got that look on their face when we’re going from LA to Taipei. I knocked out the whole flight. I get to Taipei; I’m looking for a face mask because now I’m going to China. All the face masks were sold out in LA. You couldn’t get no face mask, no hand sanitizer, nothing. I go into a little store [in the Taipei airport], they had the face masks. I got two of those.

Now from Taipei to Shanghai, it was like, OK, this is getting real. When we landed in Shanghai, we had to wait on the plane for like 30 minutes. They were calling different people that were sitting in the back, so everybody’s looking like, what are they doing? Everybody’s alert and on-guard. [After getting off the plane], we had to go through this tunnel to go downstairs to get on the bus. Now we’re all on the bus, everybody got their gloves on, keeping their distance, don’t want to touch anything. We get off the bus on our way to the baggage claim and there’s a huge line. People got their whole suits on, face masks, like Star Wars gear. It’s really serious. We landed at, like, 12:00 pm. My flight to Quanzhou wasn’t until 8:00 pm. So, I’m in the airport for, like, eight hours. This whole process—they are walking around, spraying stuff in the air, everybody’s asking questions. When it gets to the time to get interviewed and all that, I sat down, they asked me all type of questions: Where have I been? Have I been in contact with people who have the virus? It was a whole interview process that I had to do, like, three times. Everybody had yellow stickers. I heard you can get green, yellow or red stickers. Green stickers probably mean that wherever you came from, nobody has the virus. Everybody from the states got a yellow sticker because that shows you came from an environment where people have the virus. I don’t know what red means, but I have a yellow sticker on my passport.

I get my bag and then go up these stairs, it’s probably like 3:00 pm at this point now. Everybody coming internationally, we’re all upstairs in this room. Everybody’s separated. They’re calling your name, this and that, so they can take you to get your ticket. At 6:00 pm, it’s my turn to get my ticket. I’m in a different terminal. I have to go to Terminal 2. I get in this van. Inside, there was plastic everywhere. Everything was just covered in plastic. When I tell you they ain’t playing, they ain’t playing at all.

I get to the ticket counter; somebody has to escort me inside. Once I got through the security part [there were] more questions—then I go upstairs. By this time, it’s 7:30 pm, and I’m like, Yo, can I at least eat? I didn’t really have a chance to eat at all.

I fly into my city. Bro, the same process again. I land there probably around 9-10 something. I went through the same process. Interviews signed papers. Where have you been? You did that in Shanghai, you didn’t do that here, so where you been at? They do temperature checks all the time because they want to see who has a fever or not. I’m waiting at the airport, answering questions, [getting my] temperature checked. I couldn’t go to where I was living before, I had to go to a random hotel for two weeks. All of my stuff is at my other spot. I get into the van [to the hotel], there’s plastic everywhere again. I get to the hotel, you already know [what happened]. The process—where you been at? [It was done] by doctors at the hotel. Wherever you go, you have to make sure you give them your information. They’re not playing. They’re not playing about this. It seems like they got the world on their shoulders. It started here, so now they got to make sure that they’re doing their part so other countries can know how to survive.

Somebody from my team was able to leave me some McDonald’s. That Big Mac had no chance [laughs]. I [entered the hotel] through the back. I don’t even remember what the lobby looked like because they had stuff blocked off. I went to the elevator, went straight to my room and have been in my room since.

I can’t leave my room. I’m really in quarantine. I can see what’s outside through my window but there’s no view at all. I can’t go, like, in the hallway. I think nobody has really taken the risk to go down the hall or get on the elevator. We’re supposed to do this for two weeks straight. I’m on day nine. I have five more.
You know what’s so crazy about playing in China, I’ve been here for eight years and I don’t do much. Outside of going to the gym or going to get something to eat, I’m in my room all day. I don’t really go sightseeing or go anywhere. I’m in my room or at the gym or going to get something to eat. But now I get food delivered to me, so the only thing I’m missing is the gym. I get breakfast, lunch and dinner—you just got to order before certain times—and I have a lot of snacks.

I don’t watch TV at home, so I’m really catching up on all my shows. I just watched the last season of Snowfall, now about to go into Tiger King. I’ve been talking to family, eating, reading, doing my own workouts that my trainers gave me because they gave me some bands. I’m, like, running in place [too]. I get my temperature checked in the morning and at night. I open up a window for a few hours to get some air in. And that’s it. It’s really just time to reflect, time for reading, time to execute so many other things outside of basketball. Ty Lawson, my teammate, is a couple of doors down from me. I haven’t seen him though.

I found out through my agent [about the season being pushed back to May]. And a couple of my teammates and some players in the CBA. You know, the word keeps on spreading. When I saw it, I was like, here we go. When it comes to this league in China, nothing really surprises me. I’ve seen a lot of stuff. But also, I’m looking at it like, coming through this quarantine, if we would’ve started April 15, there probably would’ve been so many injuries. Doing two weeks of quarantine into practicing for a week then going into four games a week, you know how crazy that is? I also looked at it as a cool way of getting back into game shape.

I end [my quarantine] next week, so I’ll have time. But we’re going to find something new out every day. With the virus or with the season or who knows. We just don’t know. You just got to go with the flow of things. I’m already in a situation where I really can’t do anything. Man, things happen for a reason. It’s not just me, there are other players that flew over here as well. Now they reported that starting tomorrow, no foreigners can come into China. So, we got to see how long that’s going to be or what the league’s going to do. When I tell you things are out of our control and just control what you can control, that’s really all we can do. That’s the whole waiting game. Who knows? I got to make sure that I’m mentally and physically in shape.

There are so many ways to look at it. One thing for me is, Dang, I’m not there [in LA] to be with my wife and my kids. That’s the only thing because everything else is closed so it’s not like I’m kicking it with homies or I’m in the gym working out. It’s really that valuable time being able to physically hug my family. Other than that, I’d be doing the same thing.
DoubleDipper
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default Re: Pooh Update

Post by DoubleDipper on Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:02 pm

Sorry, I'm way behind on my emails, but Pooh has been out of quarantine since April 1st, and this is "the rest of the story" of his trip back to China to play in the CBA.  

Pooh wanted me to remind everyone that while the location of his retail store in LA, Lace, is closed due to coronavirus, the online store remains open!

He tells me that again, this is the transcript of his interview with SLAM:
To start, let me just say: During my two weeks of quarantine, thank god for my trainers. I was on YouTube watching videos of Ky Evans and FitnessBlender. I was doing cardio workouts like running in place and side to side jumps. I had resistance bands, so I was putting those on the door and going as far back as I could. Just making stuff up, from sit-ups, dips etc. But the FitnessBlender was definitely good for cardio. I was drenched. I was wondering what the people underneath me were thinking. Like, What is he doing up there? Because I’m doing squat jumps, stuff like that. Just being creative and making all kinds of noise. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I was combining a lot of different stuff. Shout out to Ky Evans, FitnessBlender, my trainers CJ, Jason (Estrada Fitness), Jelany White and our team strength coach George.

Today is April 2nd. On March 29th, I had my last testing for coronavirus, which was very uncomfortable. I had to get that testing done a couple of days before my release from quarantine. Around this time, I was thinking, Man, I’m really about to get out.

My temperature has always stayed the same. Nothing really changed. I checked into my hotel room at 1:00 am on March 18th. So my quarantine was from March 18th to April 1st. I’m telling my wife: I get out April 1st, but is that going to be a joke or what? Mentally, I scheduled my departure for April 2nd just in case.

I got a phone call on the 31st. The people in the lobby were like, Yo, tomorrow morning is your last day. You came at 1:00 am, so are you leaving at 1:00 am? I said I was going to leave around 10:00. I wasn’t in a rush like that. The morning comes, they are hitting my phone, like, You checking out? I’m like, OK, it’s real! This ain’t no April Fools’ joke!

They came up to help me with my bags. And mind you, it was a hard-to-say-goodbye moment because in those two weeks, I did a lot of stuff in that room. It was a time to reflect on life. I was on Sportscenter. I’m doing SLAM diaries. I was on Spectrum News, The Undefeated. I was really on a lot of platforms. It wasn’t that bad. I had so many business meetings on Zoom. Reading, catching up on my shows. I was really at peace. It went by fast. I was able to eat pretty well. It was one of those moments like, Man, at least a lot of good things happened from it.

In the hallway on my way out, I’m like, “Yo Ty, I’m out of here!” Ty Lawson, my teammate, was a few doors down. He leaves quarantine tomorrow. When I got downstairs, it really turned into a photoshoot. I’m taking pictures with medical staff. They had me against the wall, posing for individual shots. They already knew that it was my departure day, so they had some photos for me to sign. I’m getting my testing at this time as well. They checked my fever. We all had our masks on. They had the visor, helmet and face mask. They’re for sure being safe. That was the moment where it was like, I’m really out.

A couple of people from my team came to pick me up. I hadn’t been outside in two weeks. You know that feeling a dog has in the car, when it keeps sticking its tongue out the window? That was me. LOL. I’m looking closely at everything and it seemed normal. If you know about China, horns are blowing every second. It was regular. Restaurants and stores were open.

To get into the place I live at, they got a security guard out front checking temperatures. You can’t really go in unless you’re living on the property. I just went upstairs to my room. Now I got to tap into “I’m not in quarantine anymore” mode. This morning, I went to breakfast. The buffet spot at my place is only open for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, you have to do room service. Downstairs in the restaurant, they have like stickers that tell you the spots to be at, one meter apart. That’s where people need to be standing while they’re waiting for their food. They’re really making sure that you’re not close to anybody. It was good to see that.

Tonight will be my first night going to a restaurant. I definitely want to see how that is. It’s mandatory that you get checked for a fever everywhere, even when I went down to breakfast. Whenever you enter a new building, you have to get your temperature checked.

And today will be my first day getting in the gym. I was telling my team: ‘I’m not about to be going Usain Bolt out here. Ease me in. ‘I’m going to have an individual workout before practice with my coach Kareem. My head coach is actually in quarantine right now. He gets out Monday. So the assistant coaches are currently running practice.

There hasn’t been anything that says the season is cancelled. I know they’re having a meeting on April 20th to discuss the future of everything, but as of right now, we’re starting in May. I was telling the guys that are out here that going from quarantine to playing four games a week starting April 15th wasn’t going to work. No way we were going to be ready for that. I feel like we need this month to get back into that game type of shape. I can do all the cardio jumps in the world but game shape is a whole different story. If we do start the season, it’ll be great. But I’m not going to look at this like a waste of time if we don’t. This happened for a reason. I made the decision to come back out here. My main thing is just not getting stuck. That’s the biggest concern for players that are out here. We want to be able to have the freedom to leave once we find out whatever happens.

Only thing I’m missing is being with my wife and two kids. I know my wife is like a super mom, doing everything with our two boys. That’s one of the things I do miss and I wish I was there. But we understand the whole mission.

Now that the season is pushed back to May, I don’t know how they’ll play the games. By that time, will it be back to normal? Will teams be playing in their cities but with no fans? I don’t know how that will be going. I haven’t heard too much on that part. I know they’re supposed to be having a meeting about the league around April 20th, so I’ll make sure I keep everybody updated on the outcome.

But for now, I can’t wait to get back on the court and play this game that I love so much.
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