SHANGHAI -- Draymond Green has signed thousands of autographs in his life, but it was a specific one in China that will stick with him forever.
"I signed an autograph for this guy today, he started crying," Green said after the Golden State Warriors' win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night. "It caught me off guard. Just didn't expect that, but to see what you mean to someone else and how you can impact someone else, it's special ... He was legitimately in tears. I really couldn't believe it. I've seen quite the interactions, [people are] surprised to see you. You touch someone and they're like, 'Oh my God, they touched me!' I signed an autograph and he started crying, I couldn't believe it. But it was definitely a special moment, one that I won't forget. Not only today, that's something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
The Warriors collected a lifetime's worth of memories during their stay in China over the past week. The love and admiration this team has generated during its time halfway around the world is incomparable to any other team in this era. Everywhere the Warriors went, adoring crowds followed. Screaming fans waited for hours outside of the team's hotel to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. Fans in both Shenzhen and Shanghai packed into arenas early to watch Steph Curry & Co. company warm up.
As much as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr tried to brush off comparisons to what his team is doing to what Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls accomplished during their run in the 1990s, the comparisons are only going to intensify on and off the floor. They were treated like rock stars during their stay in China and they are winning at an unprecedented rate. While all of that is important, Kerr is smart enough to understand that just like Jordan before him, Curry's play speaks the kind of universal language that is understood anywhere he goes.
"Obviously the winning is a big part of it, but I think Steph is probably the key," Kerr said. "Even though everybody loves KD and Klay [Thompson], Draymond too, Steph is special. He's magnetic. He's everybody's favorite no matter where we go whether it's in the United States or China. People connect to Steph. I think it's because of his personality; because he kind of looks like a normal person and not a superhero. He's not that big, not that strong, and so a lot of people just relate to him. He's got a great personality and he has fun out there all the time. People enjoy watching him."
Fans in both Chinese cities couldn't get enough of Curry's special talents during this trip. Chants of "MVP, MVP" rang out inside of both arenas as Curry rained down 3-pointers, including a 40-point performance on Sunday night in Shanghai.
"It's a totally different animal out here," Warriors center JaVale McGee said. "People love Steph in the States, but in China, they obsess over him, it's crazy."
Like American fans, Chinese fans also seem drawn to the way in which Curry and the Warriors race up and down the court.
"I think it's our style of play," Thompson said. "I think they see we do it as a team, we do it as a unit. You got guys like Steph and KD, it's easy to watch us play all the time. We have such an athletic team as well. We just make the right play, keep it simple. I think Chinese people really appreciate that about us, that we're very unselfish and all we really care about is winning."
There is an excitement in these Chinese arenas each time the Warriors push the tempo. An energy that builds into delirium if Curry or Thompson drains a 3-pointer to cap a run. For as tedious as preseason basketball games can be at times, Curry and his teammates understood they had a responsibility to put on a show during their time here. At times, these games had the kind of energy you'd see during a big regular-season game, not one at the beginning of October.
That's because of the excitement that hovers over the Warriors and the special run they're embracing.
"I think because it's just so free-flowing," Green said. "I think the game of basketball kind of first grew in China in streetball. And [our style is] more streetball than you'd normally get in the NBA. So I think that's why it resonates so much here. I think it also helps that Steph is kind of your everyday-sized guy. Where [fans] kind of get the mindset of, you could be that guy. So I think that also helps as well."
As the Warriors embark on a journey that may very well end in their third championship in four seasons, they do so with the knowledge that outsized expectations and celebrity are a part of their daily routine more than ever. This trip to China only reinforced the type of new reality that so few teams ever get to experience. They have crossed over the realm of sports, morphing into the types of global icons who are feted wherever they go. It's a distinction that Thompson and his teammates are trying to take in stride.
"There's this one lady fan who keeps following me from city to city," Thompson said. "And I really appreciate her love of my game. And she just really admires how hard I play. I forget her name, but she's a very sweet lady. And then there was another fan that [had] a big, big poster of me and [my dog] Rocco. So that was cool. Any time you can make someone's day by saying hello and signing a signature, it's an incredible gift we don't take for granted.
"And we thank all the fans who wait patiently for us to sign stuff, and they're very gracious, so it doesn't go unnoticed."