JaVale McGee’s early exit from the NBA players’ union meeting in Los Angeles on Friday drew the ire of National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher when Fisher was asked to respond to McGee’s claim that some players were “ready to fold.” Other players have chimed in, but there is a reason why the Wizards center was at the Beverly Hilton valet counter waiting for his car while the union was going over its strategy to about 25 players.
McGee was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Manila, where he was scheduled to go on a promotional tour through the Philippines for Smart Communications, the country’s leading wireless provider. He will film commercials and make some appearances as part of a newly-signed endorsement deal with the talk and text company, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
And from there, McGee will continue his journey through the South Pacific by stopping Hawaii to participate in the USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour called Hoops for Troops.
Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Tyreke Evans, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, D.J. Augustin and former Wizard Mike Miller are also expected to participate in the games from Oct. 23-28. The group is scheduled to visit four military bases around Honolulu, lead two youth clinics and play one-on-one with service men and women.
As for the “ready to fold” controversy, Pam McGee said her son’s comments were misconstrued. JaVale McGee was asked if some players were ready to give in and he replied, “There’s definitely some guys in there saying that they’re ready to fold, but the majority are willing to stand strong.”
Pam McGee said too many people are ignoring McGee’s overall sentiment. “He basically stated the majority of the guys are standing strong and they support the union,” she said.
“He comes from a blue-collar town. He was born in Flint, Mich., a union-based town. He believes in the union and is in support of his colleagues. He only left the meeting because he had to go on a USO tour.”
The NBA and the players’ union are meeting with a mediator on Tuesday to possibly reach a resolution to the lockout.
McGee gained popularity in the Philippines after his dazzling dunk, block and plank display during a July exhibition organized by Filipino billionaire and Smart chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan that included such NBA stars as Rose, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. Dunking and planking pays, apparently, since it resulted in a deal for McGee.
But the lovefest was mutual. Pam said that McGee would also take some time to look for vacation homes while visiting the Philippines this week. He also posted a “flying Buddha” picture on his Twitter account.
“He likes the Philippines a lot,” she said in a telephone interview.