Recently I read that the Wizards went to Brazil and played a preseason game there. Traveling with a professional sports team abroad reminds me immediately of some of the fabulous experiences that Abe and I had traveling with the Bullets to China, the Philippines and Israel. Also, some of the trips we made with the Capitals to Russia, Finland and Sweden.
Some of the best parts were when all of us were sitting on a train or bus together; sharing the daily experiences with travel, hotels, language, food, drinks, and people!
Where do I start?
First of all, this was in the 1980’s so these countries were still communist. And, yes, we always had a KGB guide with us. Not, of course, Israel or Finland and Sweden but certainly, Russia and China.
Which stories should I tell?
Abe negotiating with the Russian director over acquiring two Russian players to play for the Capitals and what they would be paid, or the negotiations in Shanghai over the rules of the upcoming game?
Well, let’s do both.
What was particularly funny about the Russian negotiations is that for several days, Abe was, of course, speaking in English through an interpreter until the last day, when suddenly, as negotiations became more intense, his counterpart began speaking in perfect English. “Mr. Pollin, Bobby Orr earns one million a year!”
And in China, there were also lots of negotiations, but one of the funniest experiences was the day of the game, when our hosts were walking our entire group – players included — through absolutely every park in the city for hours and hours. We soon realized they wanted to wear our players out before the game!
To this day, whenever I do see the players at international events, we still talk about the fun we had on those trips. They were so unique and unforgettable.