Washington Wizards Visit Expo Park in Shanghai
    2009-09-08 10:28:16     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xu Leiying

Former and current members of the Washington Wizards pose for a photo with Haibao, the mascot of Shanghai World Expo, at the site of the U.S. pavilion on Sunday, September 7, 2009. As the first NBA team that visited China in 1979, the Washington Wizards returned to Shanghai to mark the 30th anniversary of the normalization of China-U.S. relations as well as their groundbreaking trip here in 1979. [Photo: cnsphoto]

The Washington Wizards, the first NBA team that visited China in 1979, returned to Shanghai after 30 years, China News Service reported on Tuesday.

The visiting delegation included veteran players Wes Unseld, Gheorghe Muresan of Romania as well as current Washington Wizards players Caron Butler and Randy Foy. They visited the World Expo Park in Shanghai and played basketball with Haibao, the expo mascot.

It was the first time that Hall-of-Famer Unseld had returned Shanghai since he and his teammates visited there 30 years ago. He told reporters that the changes that have occurred in Shanghai were so great that he could hardly find anything he was familiar with.

Unseld also said he was amazed by what he had seen at the Expo park and would tell his family and friends about it, the report said.

In 1979, the Washington Wizards, known as the Washington Bullets at that time, paid a groundbreaking journey to China at the invitation of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as part of celebrations for the forging of diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing earlier that year. The team, led by center Unseld and fellow future Hall-of-Famer Elvin Hayes, played exhibition games against the Chinese national squad and the People's Liberation Army's Bayi team.

Veterans of the team planned the return visit to mark the 30th anniversary of their historic trip.

--by Xu Leiying

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