nba vacations

Travel Like an NBA Player

Here’s how 3 pros spent their time in Asia this summer.

When NBA players hang their jerseys up for the season, they need time away from the courts, the game, and the competition to relax and recalibrate before training camp begins. “It’s great to travel,” says Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. “It clears your head and it’s good for the mind, body, and soul to do something new.” 

Kuzma, as well as Willie Cauley-Stein of the Sacramento Kings and Danilo Gallinari of the Los Angeles Clippers, had the opportunity this summer to travel with the league through programs like NBA Cares and Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball organization. They did things like coach exhibitions, host basketball clinics for school students, and watched the NBA finals with fans.

But they also had some time to explore their surroundings. Here’s how Kuzma, Cauley-Stein, and Gallinari spent their time abroad this summer.

Kyle Kuzma, power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers
The destination: Beijing and Weinan, China
The highlights: Kuzma visited the Terracotta Army warrior statues, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China. “It’s as amazing as you think,” he says. The food was also something to write home about. “The spicy beef noodles were my favorite dish. I dug all the amazing flavors but the traffic was worse than in Los Angeles, 100 percent, and that’s saying a lot.” 
The best part about traveling: “I love finding out how people do things differently than we do in the United States and experiencing that firsthand when I travel.” 
Healthy travel advice: Kuzma always makes sure to eat well, stretch, and do core work when he travels. 
What’s next: “I really want to visit the Dominican Republic, France, Italy, and Greece. I’m going to Paris Fashion Week [from September 25 to October 3], so I’m excited for that.” 

Willie Cauley-Stein, center for the Sacramento Kings
The destination: Manila, the Philippines 
The highlights: “The vibe in Manila is incredible. I checked out the markets and I really love the fruit there. It’s so fresh and tastes amazing. Some of my favorite foods were the steak, sushi, mussels, and the street foods like fried bananas.” The self-described art lover also took in the city’s architecture and museums. “I’m always interested in art and anything to do with painting,” he says. 
The best part about traveling: “The coolest thing is realizing that no matter where you go, everybody is the same in certain ways. I think it’s important to learn from other cultures and I love being able to use basketball to connect with people around the world.” 
Healthy travel advice: ​“I always try to balance any cheat meals with healthy meals and to stay active, even if it just means walking or doing a quick bodyweight workout. This trip was at the beginning of the offseason, so as soon as I got back I started training again.”
What’s next: “I’m excited to work with the other young guys and continue to develop as a team. Later in the summer, I’ll be back in the gym and training more. You get in a different mind, body, and spirit once you start preparing for the season.”

Danilo Gallinari, small forward for the Los Angeles Clippers
The destination: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and the surrounding rural areas
The highlights: “We had the chance to go about two hours away from the city, down in the Tien Giang Province by one of the major rivers. There are a few islands there, and we were able to see some crocodiles and feed them,” Gallinari says. “It’s not something you get to do every day. The scene and atmosphere was amazing.” He also visited the Independence Palace, the famous Central Post Office, and the day and night markets. He really delved into the local culture, taking bicycle taxis everywhere and eating Vietnamese food every day, like soft shell crab, morning glory, mango-papaya salad, and spring rolls.
The best part about traveling: “I think it’s important for players to travel after the season ends. It’s also great to get to know different cultures and see what’s going on in the world.”
Healthy travel advice: “I usually don’t work out much when I travel because I use vacation to rest, so I train hard right before and right after the trip. When I’m on vacation, I walk when I can, sleep well, and try local foods. Doing a little bit of yoga helps me feel loose and flexible.” 
What’s next: “I’m really excited about the coming season because we have a good team. If everyone can stay fairly healthy, we can surprise a lot of people.”