A very small minority of college basketball stars go on to play professionally. Of those, some play in the NBA, some are on minor league teams, and some play overseas. Whoever they play for, they all get to win a game occasionally ...except for the Washington Generals. That's the team whose sole purpose is to lose every night to the Harlem Globetrotters. At age 21, Ryan Gunderson found himself flying to China to start as point guard for the Generals, and later became team captain. You might think that losing every night would be soul-sucking, but Gunderson has fond memories of the experience.
My first game in China, I started at point guard. I was stoked, it was huge crowd, and as PG, I was now the one who’d lead the team out of the tunnel to the crowd. When you run out to places like the Staples Center with 20,000 people, you’re thinking to yourself, How do I get to do this for a living? CRAZY!
But for my first game out of the tunnel, little did I know they always pull a prank on the rookies: Everyone else would stay back as you run out by yourself. So everyone laughs at you, and the rest of the team just runs to the bench. So there I was, alone on the court in front of 18,000 Chinese people, and I swear they couldn’t have laughed harder.
Another tradition for the rookies is a part of the game where you get your uniform ripped off and you have to run around and scream. First game in the books and those two things happen right off the bat.