Lockout life was pretty sweet for Charlotte's Boris Diaw, who spent it in French wine country, playing for JSA Bordeaux. (He's also the team president.) And Leandro Barbosa of the Raptors returned home to Brazil, where summer is just around the corner. "It's a shame," Barbosa said when labor peace was announced. "Like it or not, I have a contract ... and I have to go back." Makes sense. The average December high temperature in Rio: 83.5°. In Toronto: 35.2°.
Nuggets guard Ty Lawson's stay with BC ≈Ωalgiris in Lithuania wasn't without controversy. He sent a tweet critical of the team's training regimen ("I coulda sat home and played NBA 2K12 and got the same thing accomplished") and was subjected to racist tweets. But he did get to play the tourist. Before a Euroleague game in Athens, Lawson tweeted, "i wanna see one of those naked statues with leaf covering the privates." Who says athletes aren't cultured?
Several players thrived overseas. Notorious draft bust Adam Morrison dominated in Serbia and is now drawing the attention of NBA teams. New Jersey's Deron Williams played so well in Turkey that Besitkas retired his number— after 15 games. And then there's journeyman Brian Scalabrine, whose play—and heritage—have made him a folk hero in Italy. Fans of Benetton Treviso have taken to singing, "Scalabrine é uno di noi [Scalabrine is one of us]!"
After his first game in China, in which he had 43 points and 22 rebounds, Denver's Wilson Chandler tweeted, "by far the coldest gym i've ever played in lol and i'm from michigan," and "felt like we was on tundra playin the packers lol, word ..." Then there's the food. Kenyon Martin of the Nuggets has reportedly gone through "three or four" chefs already, and Wilson offered this lament on Twitter: "def jealous i cnt get no soul food out chea n china."
ILLUSTRATIONS BY DANIEL HERTZBERG