The NBA is serious about expanding into the Chinese market.
That is more than just a couple preseason games — the Heat beat the Clippers in Beijing early Thursday and they meet again this weekend in Shanghai — and having players go over there on shoe company sponsored tours. They have an official NBA office in China and now they are about to have an actual footprint.
The N.B.A. Center — a basketball extravaganza that will include a gym and an N.B.A.-themed cafe, a restaurant and a store as well as an interactive gaming area and a children’s zone — will be placed at the center of a $1.5 billion, 800-hectare, or 2,000-acre, property development being built by a Chinese company….
Why China? As always just follow the trail of money.
China is already the second-biggest market for the N.B.A., after the United States, and it is a key to the league’s international strategy, with revenue of more than $100 million for the past year, according to analysts.
And with the size of China, the growing middle class in that nation and a growing love of basketball there, this makes a lot of financial sense. The league plans to build more than one eventually, league officials said.
Doing business in China and understanding the market there are not simple, but the league is committed to it, clearly. Because you don’t see them building like this in Europe or Mexico.
Video: Allen Iverson’s crossover can still break ankles
I love this video, with an Iverson crossover just knocking down a Chinese defender in an exhibition game, because it’s such a throwback to a time when Iverson was the most entertaining player in the NBA. He will always be near the top of that all-time list for me.
But please, please people don’t take a 17-second clip of what Iverson can do against a Chinese league defender in an exhibition game and extrapolate that Iverson can still do that in the NBA. Different world, different games. He’s not coming back.
Heck, I’d pay to see this. Maybe more than the Heat/Clippers exhibition games that tip off in China in just more than a week.
Allen Iverson and Jason Williams are going to play in an exhibition game in Beijing against Stephon Marbury and his team, the Beijing Ducks. Other guys playing on the NBA alumni team you may know include Damon Jones, Shane Burrell and J. R. Reid.
The NBA is trying to spread it’s brand in China and has been for years, hence sending two of its most popular teams and some very popular players — LeBron James, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade (who may not play as he recovers from knee surgery) — there before the season.
But like I said, if you’re forced to watch meaningless games wouldn’t your rather watch Iverson and Marbury put on a show?
Report: Gilbert Arenas considering playing in China
Gilbert Arenas wants another shot in the NBA. He’s working out at the Lakers facilities. His agent is calling GMs all over the place. Arenas is telling gas station managers his plans and that’s somehow becoming a rumor.
The truth — there are no calls for him. Teams are not interested. They weigh the off-court distraction with the on-court production (he barely played in Memphis last season) and move on.
Sources with knowledge of Arenas’ thinking told ESPN.com that the former All-Star is giving strong consideration to starting the season in China….
And China is said to be at the top of the list, given the fact that former NBA All-Stars who go there tend to be well-compensated … and the helpful knowledge that the short Chinese season allows for a return to the NBA in March or April if he impresses.
The Chinese Basketball Association season also doesn’t start until November, so Arenas can wait a while longer to make that call.
It seems like a good move, if he can handle the culture shock. A number of players from the NBA signed to play in China during the lockout and a number of them (Kenyon Martin may be the biggest name) bolted pretty quickly. There is a very high turnover of western players in China as players do not all adapt well to a very different environment.
But I bet Arenas gives it a shot as he is not likely to get an NBA gig.
This is the time of year when Nike, adidas and other sponsors send their big NBA clients over to China for some public relations and image building. Kobe Bryant has been there. Rajon Rondo. Basically, half the NBA has been over.
Including Amare Stoudemire, who is in Shanghai for the Nike Sports Festival, and he had his people video the experience. Which once again proves that life for NBA players can be just crazy at times.