Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan -- Konnichiwa. First, it appears the Cavs are close to a deal with Scot Pollard. Also, I am told they are in talks to make a trade in the near future, but I don't yet have the details. My guess that one of the shooting guards will be offloaded perhaps for nothing or a draft pick in return.
I've been here in Sapporo for two days now. This city is supposedly the size of Boston, about 500 miles north of Tokyo. From what I can gather from traveling around, its major industries are Sapporo Beer and the "spa" industry. There are an uncountable number of these joints about with bizarre tactics for drawing in customers. Some have "menus" of "services" outside the doors, others interesting billboards. One I saw today showed a woman cleaning out a guy's ear with a Q-tip. I'm serious.
It took me just under 30 hours to get from Cleveland Hopkins to Sapporo via Houston and Tokyo. After arriving at my hotel I needed a tutorial from ESPN.com personality Chris Sheridan to explain how my toilet works. There are five buttons and a water pressure dial but none of them flush the thing. I finally found a lever on the sink that did the trick.
Many signs here are in English but virtually no one speaks it. I know about 10 Japanese words, so you can imagine the struggles. When getting a cab to the arena today for U.S. practice I had to pretend I was dribbling and shooting a basketball to achieve understanding. Luckily I have found a few Japanese reporters willing to help me at restaurants.
Earlier tonight I dined on pork salad, shrimp tempura (by the way, sometimes shrimp here come on the plate with the head still on it. Try cutting that off with a chopstick!), and some sort of Japanese beans. Sheridan was more adventurous and attempted raw squid and mackerel and some mashed up mushrooms that smelled like my garbage after a week.
Tonight (Friday night, well actually it is early Saturday as I write this) I attended the opening ceremonies. It was a little strange because the room was so small and six teams were crammed in. I got off the elevator and Yao Ming was laying on a couch yawning, other players were in shorts, and the Americans were in suits. Plus there was this bizarre mascot walking around.
Afterward all the US players bolted for their rooms except Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard. Bosh stayed and got Howard to take a picture of him and new Raptors teammate Rasho Nesterovic, who plays for Slovenia. Assistant coach Nate McMillan and Bosh tried to buy stuff at this merchandise stand but they didn't have any yen on them and the wise proprietors didn't want American credit cards. At that moment, I was more financially viable than two millionaires.
Anyway, check back early Saturday both here and at Ohio.com. The game with Puerto Rico starts at 1 a.m. Eastern and I'll have a bunch of coverage. Sayonara.