White Rice and Mickey D's: Life of an NBA Exile in China (Alan Paul in China)There are many different expat communities in China, ranging from students to retirees setting out on second careers. One of the most interesting and unusual is also one of the smallest -- the Chinese Basketball Association's 30 foreign players. Their position in society is rather strange, at once profoundly engulfed in Chinese culture and living on its fringes. They are extreme expats, often living in smaller cities in the Chinese interior, isolated from communities of fellow Americans and highly dependent on one another.
The two foreign teammates are often each other's best friends and support systems. Mr. Shammgod, however, spent much of the season as the lone American on Shanxi because 7-foot-tall Rashid Byrd clashed with management and left for the U.S., only to return a month later.
"I can't handle this situation," said Mr. Byrd, shortly before heading home the first time. "This is my first time outside the U.S. and it might be my last after this."
Jason Dixon shakes his head when talking about Mr. Byrd's struggles. A funny, quiet 6-9 center, Mr. Dixon is an eight-year member of the Guangdong Tigers. "It's their country, their league and their game and you can't change it," he says. "The sooner you understand that the better off you'll be. I've seen so many guys come over here and fight the system instead of making peace with it."
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