Road (trip) less traveled: My season in Japan

Knicks and Bulls great Bill Cartwright relied heavily on an interpreter during his season in Japan.
Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Not surprisingly, the team was not in good condition. I immediately changed our practice format to just Mondays off and we practiced for a minimum of 2/13 hours a day. We were basically in training camp mode the entire time I was there, something my old Knicks coach Hubie Brown would have been proud of.

Cartwright said Japanese fans love the NBA and knew him from his glory days with the Bulls.
Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

I really didn't notice any big distinctions (other than the language barrier) in coaching the players in Japan from the NBA. The Japanese players all want the same things that the non-Japanese players want: playing time. They want to score and they don't want to be blamed for anything. Probably the biggest difference is Japanese players will rarely show or tell you how they feel. No one is demanding to be traded.

Communicating with Japanese players during games was no easy task for Cartwright.
Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Would I do it all again? I think so. But right now I'm spending some much-needed time at home after being away from my family. You can only Skype so much.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.