Ever since Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, it has spreaded quickly to almost every corner of the world. Nowadays, basketball has its own culture, spirit, and charm.
Basketball entered China more than 100 years ago. In the first half of the 20th century, due to economic and culture changes and the frequent occurrence of wars, the sport did not attract much public participation. After the foundation of the PRC, the government promoted a physical culture to build up its citizens’ health and basketball received great welcome.
Yao Ming: China’s greatest basketball player
Yao Ming is the best basketball player China has ever produced. In the 2002 NBA draft, Yao became the first overall pick and joined the Houston Rockets. Due to Yao’s success, CCTV began broadcasting more and more NBA games. In the 1990s, when Michael Jordan was in the prime of his career and spreading the popularity of basketball throughout the world, most Chinese people still did not have access to watch NBA games. At first, Yao was the main driving force behind the NBA’s growing popularity in China, but later, as NBA stars like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett attracted more fans, Chinese television stations began broadcasting non-Houston Rockets games. Also, NBA-related products began gaining popularity. Basketball shoes, clothing, T-shirts, and player cards are popular among young fans.
Yao’s value is reflected not only in his achievements in NBA. He served as a bridge between China and the western world of sports. Since he entered the NBA, Chinese sports apparel brands began selling their products abroad. Basketball clothing brands, such as PEAK, ANTA, Lining, and 361° expanded beyond just China. Also famous NBA players such as Kevin Love, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, Shane Battier and Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) have all endorsed Chinese brands. This cooperation is win-win: the stars can increase their influence in China, and the brands can increase their fame in the sight of foreign consumers.
CBA: an alternative for stars
It was recently reported that McGrady is coming to play for Qingdao(青岛) Club. McGrady is not the first player to play in the CBA. Before him, several players including JR Smith, Mike James, Aaron Brooks, and Stephen Marbury played in China. Some of them did not fit in China’s system and left, but some were very successful. Marbury helped Beijing(北京) Club to win the 2012 CBA champion.
Why are these big name players willing to come to CBA? The first reason is that CBA is on the rise and these players can earn a lot of money and fame in China. The second reason is that many players hope to go back to the NBA by performing well in the CBA.