Hey, locked out NBA players. How would you feel about playing in a league where the players have no power, practices go on for five or six hours on off days, there are bus rides that would make a minor league baseball player wince, and forget about post-game food spreads, or even a good college training table?
China still sound inviting? There is a reason the Chinese Basketball Association has the highest turnover rate of foreign players among professional leagues.
Wednesday it was announced that Kenyon Martin was going to go the route of Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith and other former NBA players before them and go to China.
Those Chinese teams pay big money for a short season (it ends in March) and NBA players dream of expanding their name and brand in a massive untapped market in China. Like a 1940s cartoon character, their eyes become dollar signs.
That’s not the reality that awaits them on the ground.
The fantastic Chinese basketball blog Nuibball.com broke down life playing on a Chinese team.
The evidence speaks for itself. The CBA has arguably the highest turnover rate of any professional league in the world. It is rare for a team to finish the year with the same two imports they started with, nor is it out of the question for teams to end the year with two completely different players altogether….
There are a variety of reasons why so many players don’t finish out the full-season in China. First, Chinese teams are notoriously fickle with their foreign players and are quick to pull the plug if either the team’s record or the player’s individual statistics are not line with expectations. And as the CBA regular season is only 32 games long, owners won’t wait more than a few games to make a switch if they feel that’s what the team needs to turn itself around….
Besides being at the mercy of teams, who can essentially terminate a contract whenever they want, players often fail to adjust to everyday life in China. Whereas some places in Europe offer a Western style of life that Americans are able to adapt rather easily to, China has a distinctly different language and culture. The case is even more apparent on the basketball court. After experiencing daily six hour practices, nine hour bus rides, unheated hotel rooms and stadiums, and endless meals of KFC and McDonalds — all while not being able to communicate directly with Chinese coaches, management and teammates — players often waive the white flag on their Chinese career and just pack up and leave.
It will be interesting to see how many of these big name American imports waive their white flag and come home.