Last week, Jordan Brand athlete Russell Westbrook marked his first time in Greater China as a Jordan Brand athlete with a multi-stop Defy Gravity tour that included visits to Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei.

Photography: Nike

While in Beijing, Westbrook attended the official launch of Air Jordan XXXI and led clinics with young players. For two consecutive evenings, Westbrook also appeared at the final of the China Empire League, where the player discussed the importance of the brand’s “Court Zero” attitude, which in Westbook’s view refers to the formidable persistence and focus that enable an athlete to accomplish feats as seemingly impossible as “defying gravity.” After all, he reminded the crowd, his own basketball career didn’t take off until his final year of high school. But despite being overlooked for years due to his small childhood stature, he spent all of his spare time practicing the game — the secret to his eventual success. “If you love basketball, don’t ever be scared of any difficulties,” he declared. “Forget about everything and just focus on making breakthroughs, and that’s the greatest charm of basketball.”


Westbrook also took this message to Hong Kong, where he attended a Jordan WINGS event at the Youth Outreach, Sai Wan Ho. A Jordan Brand partner since 2013, Youth Outreach combines education and basketball to empower young athletes to pursue their highest potential. In Sai Wan Ho, the Jordan Brand partnership has enabled the center to renovate its courts and establish a mentorship and training program. Westbrook’s visit continued this trajectory, as the player both listened to the student’s stories and joined them on the court for practice and a game.

That evening, Westbrook attended the “Court Zero” event at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where 23 elite basketball athletes trained with Westbrook before showcasing their talent in a game, following which Westbrook selected three outstanding players who embody the Court Zero spirit. Wrapping up his tour of the city, Westbrook attended the Air Jordan XXXI celebration at Jordan 8 Wellington, Central.


Next heading to Taipei for the first time, Westbrook participated in the launch of the city’s Jordan WINGS program, a program the brand kicked off in 2015 in partnership with the China Foundation of Poverty Alleviation. The relationship provides kids in underdeveloped areas with increased access to sport and aligns them with teachers and mentors who help them complete their high-school education. While in Taipei, Westbrook also attended a Court Zero activation and Jordan Breakfast Club training sessions.