Beyond Yao and Yi

Updated: 2013-04-19 08:44

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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 Beyond Yao and Yi

Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers demonstrates a dribbling drill for a participant of an NBA Cares event on Oct 10, 2012 in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

The future of the NBA

With the recent announcement of the 2013-14 season's NBA preseason games in Beijing and Shanghai, the league set a new benchmark for the sport in China. Still, as Stern has mentioned, the Chinese fan is a sophisticated person who demands more access to the NBA above the joy of watching live games on TV.

So what will the NBA look like in its second act? To many, the league can ride its growing momentum by holding regular season games in China.

But can the NBA bring part of the regular season to China?

Since 2004, when the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings squared off in Shanghai, the NBA has flown over 11 teams (including the Miami Heat, the reigning NBA champions) to play 13 exhibition games in China.

The idea of bringing regular season games to China has been discussed, but Stern says that is not an option at the moment. "There would be logistical troubles and our mindset is about focusing on the grassroots level."

Silver says he thinks Chinese fans "recognize there is numerous logistical difficulties of bringing teams here. At least so far, fans here have been very appreciative regardless of which team we brought in".

After leading the expansion of the Women's Tennis Association in China as president for two years before joining the NBA, Shoemaker is aware of the importance of solidifying relations with the local governing bodies.

"Our mission is to work with the CBA and partners to grow the game of basketball in China. Learning from the experiences with the WTA, I have found it is important to be collaborative, patient and respectful to do business in China," he says.

For now, both leagues are working together to teach the game. Shoemaker says the NBA is currently focused on helping develop young Chinese talent to play in the CBA. Both leagues extended a coaching development program in October last year to teach more than 580 Chinese coaches of NBA coaching standards.

In 2011, with the Dongguan Basketball School, an NBA training center in South China, NBA and the CBA introduced methods in training, recovery and nutrition to the nation's most promising teen players and their coaches. Silver says the next Yao may emerge from this system.

"We know the way to develop the next Yao or Yi is focusing on coaching the youth," Silver says. "With a population the size of China, there is no doubt in our mind that future NBA superstars are out there right now in some gym, some backyard and some driveway, bouncing a basketball and dreaming about playing in the NBA one day."

The NBA is also dedicated to developing arenas and facilities in China to provide fans with an NBA-style experience. After reconstructing three arenas - the MasterCard Center in Beijing, the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, and Guangzhou's International Sports Arena - the NBA announced last year that it will help to build another in Xiamen, Fujian province.

(China Daily 04/19/2013 page1)

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