Sunday, March 29, 2009

If you aren't NBA, you don't matter.

Basketball is HUGE in China. And I'm not just talking about Yao.

Most Americans know of Yao Ming. Pretty much everyone in the world does. The guy is gigantic. Its hard to miss him him.

But can you name any other Chinese basketball players? Chinese NBA players? How about cities in China with professional basketball teams?
Probably not.

For shame. All Chinese males under the age of 25 can name (what they believe to be) at least 30 US cities. Which ones? Those with an NBA franchise of course. Chinese people know our 26th biggest city Milwaukee (pop. 602,191) but don't know our 8th, San Diego (pop. 1,266,731) or 10th, San Jose (pop. 939,899). However, I'm sure they also think Toronto is a US state (it basically is) and that Utah, Minnesota, Golden State, Denver and Charlotte are cities (they aren't). For those of you not paying attention, that was a nice little jab at the cities of Charlotte and Denver in the last sentence. Check it out if you missed it and don't forget to tip your waiters.

For the record, there are 18 (ed: fixed) teams in the CBA. Beijing's team is called the Ducks. But DO NOT confuse them with those fruity hockey players in Anaheim or that rag tag group of under achievers led by Uncle Emilio. These ducks are BEASTS. Actually, I haven't seen them play yet.

Oh and there IS another Chinese player in the NBA right now. Yi Jianlian plays for the New Jersey Nets. Two other players were drafted but did not play for more than a few years. All games for both Yi's team and Yao's Housten Rockets are broadcast in their entirety here. As are Lakers games. Even though its just his name that is Japanese, I think Kobe is an honorary Asian.

Basketball magazines on the news-stand provide me with the only black faces I've seen for weeks. Lebron. Kobe. D-ho. All HUGE celebrities over here. I'm pretty sure the only black people the Chinese are aware of are NBA players and Will Smith.

I've also recently learned that Jason Kidd has a shoe deal here. That's right. USA Gold medal Olympian Jason Kidd has left Nike and signed with PEAK, a low cost Chinese shoemaker. He joins Shane Battier as a promoter of the budget brand. If you are lucky, you MIGHT be able to track a pair down at your local K-Mart next to the Starbury line if you are lucky. Ouch, first Charlotte and now Stephon Marbury? No easy target is safe from Marc's biting wit.

This post is my official call to all US college players or role players in the NBA. Come to China! Get yourself a nice contract. Your dollars will go farther here. Give it a year or so and you'll have a footwear deal! If you play for the Ducks, I'll come out and cheer you on. I'll be easy to find. I'll be the one white guy in the crowd.