Inside the Venetian Arena, an assortment of NBA stars are busy painting the landscape known as the 'bigger picture'. A Puerto Rican point guard breezes past his Chinese opponent, dishes off to a Turkish power forward, who finds his Polish teammate open under the basket, and the ball is jammed home. Believe the hype, the game has gone global and this week's China Games are part of that push, taking basketball's greatest show to the far reaches of the earth. But, like the crazed construction work going on outside the Macau arena, it takes time for your mind to digest the notion of how fast this is all happening. It has been just 15 years since professional players were first allowed to take part in the Olympics - Barcelona, 1992 - in the move given credit for changing the way the world saw the game. Before then, international basketballers looked at playing in the NBA like some distant dream. These days, though, it has almost become their birthright. It's a point not lost on the NBA's older guard, players from a now bygone era when the league was purely all-American. Rick Barry, George Gervin and Darryl Dawkins - two of the league's all-time greatest players and one of its all-time greatest showmen - have been in Macau this week helping the NBA spread the goodwill. Decades removed from their playing days, their bodies might have slowed somewhat but they've just been out on centre court to greet the near-capacity crowd, and facing the fans again has the trio's hearts pumping. 'I never saw this far ahead,' said the 55-year-old Gervin, the former San Antonio guard and perennial All-Star. 'This here tonight is simply amazing. You know, for basketball to get where it is today somebody had to have a vision. 'The guy I give credit to is [NBA commissioner] David Stern. He saw the importance of bringing in European players, of taking basketball all over the world. And we see the results of that today.' We have been ushered away from the din but you cannot escape the buzz being generated out on court as the Orlando Magic are breezing past a gallant but out-matched Chinese all-star outfit. The 63-year-old Barry - 794 NBA games under his belt, championship ring proudly bulging from his finger - looks around, points towards the game being played on the floor and begins his take on things. 'I actually thought the game was always going to get to this point and I actually think it is going to get bigger,' the Hall of Famer said. 'The reason I thought that way was because basketball was already played in so many countries. It was just about people learning to play the game the proper way and developing their skills and talents.' Dawkins was all about that sort of talent, a human highlight reel who named his slam dunks and was a fan favourite during stints with Philadelphia, New Jersey, Detroit and Utah. 'It's simple,' said the 50-year-old. 'If you can play in the NBA, they will find you. It doesn't matter what country you come from, these days the teams will find you, they will have known all about you for years.' Barry continues the thread. 'You've had internationals as the most valuable players in the NBA for the past three years now and there are countless outstanding players coming out,' he said. 'What this is doing is forcing the American players to re-evaluate their approach to the game because of the skills the internationals bring. The biggest adjustment overseas players have had to make is to the physical aspect of the game.' Of course, that brings us to talk of Yao Ming and how quickly he managed to adapt to the rigours of the NBA. 'A lot of the big men that come into the league have had to learn to play with their back to the basket,' Gervin said. 'Look at Yao Ming, he learned quickly he has to stay in the paint, develop some different shots in the paint. We know he can shoot the jumper but it's the percentage shots that will take his team to the next level and you can see that happening with the Rockets now.' The NBA's minders have begun to circle, and the trio are being ushered off to press some more flesh. But, as in his playing days, Barry wants to fire off the last shot. 'The greatest thing that happened to this game - and people thought he was crazy at the time for doing it - was [former secretary-general of Fiba] Boris Stankovic opening up the Olympics to the professionals and the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics,' Barry said. 'The impact that they had on the game globally was immense and Boris' feeling was that yes, the other teams are going to get killed for a while but eventually they would catch up. He thought it would accelerate the process of taking the game to the world and it has actually gone faster than anybody could have imagined.'