NBA teams unveil Chinese New Year uniforms

Updated: 2015-01-28 06:21

By LIAN ZI in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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NBA teams are looking to reach more Chinese fans with Chinese New Year celebrations that include special-edition uniforms.

The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors unveiled their specially designed Chinese New Year uniforms on Monday.

"Connecting with our Asian community is a priority for our organization, and we are proud that we are going to be one of two teams in the NBA to debut a Chinese New Year-themed uniform as a way to thank our fans here in the Bay Area and abroad in China," Rick Welts, president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors, said at a news conference unveiling the new uniform in Chinatown in San Francisco.

"We have been working with the NBA for two years now on our Chinese New Year uniforms to recognize the tremendous fan base that our Asian community represents," Welts said.

NBA teams unveil Chinese New Year uniforms

On behalf of the Golden State Warriors, Harrison Barnes (first from left), player of Golden State Warriors, and Rick Welts (second from left), president and Chief Operating Officer of the Golden State Warriors, presents the Chinese New Year Uniform of the team to the San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (third from left) as a gift at a press conference unveiling the new uniform hosted at the Betty Ong Rec Center in San Francisco on Monday. LIAN ZI / CHINA DAILY

Warriors' basketball players Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee displayed the uniforms to the media.

The front of the uniform reads "Warriors" in Chinese, with the sleeve featuring a goat, the animal of the coming lunar year in the Chinese zodiac cycle. Also, the jersey features red and yellow throughout, representing Chinese heritage; yellow is also one of the Warriors' regular uniform colors.

"The uniforms look great ... very cool," Green said in a conference call with Beijing media on Tuesday. "In the Bay Area, we have tremendous support from the Chinese community, so this is a way of showing our appreciation.

"The way China has embraced the NBA is incredible ... not just the support of the fans, but their overall knowledge and appreciation of the game," he said. "I'm very grateful for the positive feedback I've had every time I visit China, but last year was the best ... the first time I never felt homesick. The Chinese truly made me feel like one of their own."

Green said China represents the league's biggest fan base outside the US, and "the support there just keeps growing and growing. By joining in this celebration, we're showing how important China is to our game."

The uniforms will make their game debut on Feb 20 when the Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Chinese New Year starts on Feb 19.

The Warriors will also wear the uniform on Feb 24 at Washington and on March 2 at Brooklyn, Welts said. The team's fifth annual Chinese New Year celebration will be held March 4, featuring special New Year-themed pre-game, halftime and timeout performances, in addition to the Warriors Dance Team and Warriors Hoop Troop wearing Chinese New Year apparel.

"Don't be surprised if literally you find thousands of people in the Chinese New Year wearing the new uniforms," Lee said. "I think it can get that popular, as everyone wants to display it anywhere as they can. It is an indication of how strong we feel the Warriors are part of our community, and hopefully we could have more opportunities to continue this wonderful relationship."

The Warriors were one of the first National Basketball Association teams to launch a Weibo account, in October 2013, and it now has more than 1.5 million followers.

"We post player and coach interviews, social media contests, game stats and information, photos and information on our Weibo page," according to the team.

Players Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes have their own Weibo accounts.

The Warriors, Miami Heat and Houston Rockets are the only three NBA teams that have Chinese-language websites. The Warriors have traveled to China to play the Los Angeles Lakers in Beijing and Shanghai.

The Rockets also unveiled Chinese New Year uniforms, and will wear the jerseys for three games, starting on Feb 21 against the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards also will celebrate the holiday and pay tribute to Chinese culture with fan giveaways, musical performances, dancers, food and courtside signage.

NBA China also plans a major promotion for the new year. From Feb 20 to March 4, a record 56 live games will be broadcast and streamed nationwide in China, featuring 27 of the 30 NBA teams.

"Chinese New Year is a time of joyful family reunion and provides an occasion for us to share in the festivities by delivering the excitement of the NBA right into the homes of our fans," said NBA China CEO David Shoemaker.