There’s no rest for the weary in the NBA off-season, especially if you’re Klay Thompson—the Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard and a starter for the Western Conference’s All-Star Team this year. Thompson traveled to China this month to participate in NBA Nation, a basketball and lifestyle touring event that gives fans the opportunity to participate in basketball contests and interact with players.
“I enjoy coming over to China,” Thompson told T+L. “This is honestly one of the biggest basketball markets in the world, so it’s really cool to be here. I never thought in my life that basketball would take me here, so I’m really thankful for these times.” We talked to him about his travel routine, his recently launched shoe line, and highlights from his travel abroad.
Tell me about your packing strategy? How do you prepare for an international trip like this?
I’m so good at packing at this point in my life, just from being in the NBA and traveling every other week, that it’s become second nature. I think six shirts, six shorts, Ospreys, and a good pair of jeans is the way to go.
Also, I don’t have to pack that much when I come here, because my shoe line and my apparel company are based out of China. Every time I come over here, they just give me a bunch of the gear, which is lovely. That’s a great setup.
You just launched your signature shoe line. Tell us about it?
It’s exciting. I signed with Anta this fall, and we just released my signature shoe. I’m really excited to work with them—they give me a lot of input on the stuff that I design, so I’m just trying to develop that side of me.
I hear athletes often have pre-game rituals, but what about pre-travel rituals?
I have one ritual. I have a dog; he’s a big part of my life. Because of my schedule I don’t have a lot of time to hang out with him, so the day before I leave, I just try and spend as much time with him as possible. I’ll take him to the park or the beach for the day, because I know how much he’ll miss me when I leave. I love dogs and that’s my only ritual—to spend as much time as possible with him on the day before I go.
It’s a long flight from California to China. How do you pass the time?
I’ve gotten so good at sleeping on planes. It’s nothing to me now, so I try and sleep half the flight, or I’ll watch movies on my iPad. I try to read a lot, too.
Being out of school, I think it’s important to educate myself, and it’s easy for me to read when I know I have a 13-hour flight ahead. I learn a lot on these flights because I have so much free time.
How do you combat jet lag? Any tricks?
I don’t usually get jet lag if it’s a flight across the country. But if it’s an international flight to another country, I feel it and I just try and get caught up. The first night when I get to China I like to relax, get to bed early, and catch up on sleep. That’s all I do. It’s simple, really.
When you arrive, what’s the first thing you do when you reach your hotel room?
I throw my bags on the bed and I lay down. I’ll probably watch TV for about 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll order a snack from room service, like a sandwich or something. I’ll throw on Sports Center every time.
What’s your favorite travel app?
Instagram is probably my favorite to document my travels. Twitter, too. Instagram’s cool because you can filter pictures. I try and take a lot of pictures on my iPhone, especially during the season, so I can look back during the off-season and see all of the memories I made. That’s always a lot of fun.
Do you have a favorite travel story or memory?
At the Great Wall, I was playing with nunchucks and I kind of hit myself on the back of the head—which was kind of funny.
Beijing and Shanghai are both notable nightlife destinations. What’s that been like?
We go out and enjoy ourselves and it’s fun. You actually hear a lot of western music in China, a lot of pop music and hip-hop, even some ‘80s rock. The nightlife isn’t that different from the United States, but it’s fun to go out and dance. I feel like once you’ve been in one club you’ve been to them all—it’s kind of universal.
Have you tried anything food-wise that surprised you?
I tried duck heart once; I tried it because it was on the table. It was kind of chewy and not my favorite. It’s not every day that you’re in China, so I like to try as many new things as possible. It gives you life experience.