SBD/October 15, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Heat-Clippers NBA China Games Seen As Successful In Helping NBA Brand Internationally

More than 18,000 fans showed up for the Clippers-Heat exhibition in Shanghai
The Heat during its preseason tour of China “did its part to foster growth in the game and in the NBA,” according to Joseph Goodman of the MIAMI HERALD. Logistically, a trip to China “in the middle of training camp isn’t what’s best for preparing for the start of the season, but, all things considered, the trip was worthwhile.” The court at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai was “like a slip and slide thanks to the arena’s staff leaving huge bay doors to its loading dock wide open for hours before and during the game.” Arena personnel “dried the entire court with towels during every timeout but it was still a hazardous 48 minutes for the players.” Heat Fs LeBron James and Chris Bosh and G Dwyane Wade “played limited minutes and it was probably for the best” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/15). In Shanghai, Zha Minjie notes with Wade and James “staying off the court for most of the game, fans were heard complaining that the game was not worth the tickets.” Former NBAer Yao Ming attended the game in Shanghai “courtside along with retired NBA stars Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning and legendary Bill Russell, in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,000.” NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA “would participate in an annual summer game with Yao Ming's charity foundation.” Stern said, "The future of basketball in China is bright" (SHANGHAI DAILY, 10/15).

WIN ON AND OFF THE COURT: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, "The most beneficial thing is taking a trip like this as a team, halfway across the world, experiencing new culture, spending so much time around each other away from the basketball court.” He added, "All of our bus rides together, all of our meals together, sightseeing together, experiencing new things together, that helps team bonding and building. I think some of these experiences we'll remember for the rest of our lives" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/15). Spoelstra said, “We want to experience this country culturally. (In Beijing), we went to the Great Wall, went to the Forbidden City, we visited the Silk Market. We want our guys experiencing a different culture.” In Ft. Lauderdale, Ira Winderman noted Friday's schedule was “limited to a meet-and-greet session, as well as a VIP session” that included Stern (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/13). Bosh said that the trip “has been worth any inconvenience, noting how both fans and players spent the week recording the interactions.” Bosh said, "I kind of just wanted to show my friends back home how warm the reception is.” Winderman noted the NBA held a joint promotion with the Shanghai Sports Bureau to “promote active and healthy lifestyles through mass sports participation as part of the inaugural Shanghai Citizens' Games.” Wade said of the event, "The atmosphere here is incredible and the fans are just great.” Meanwhile, Winderman noted the Heat-Clippers exhibition series was “staged with the NBA without a player from China for the first time since” 2004. This past week NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver “announced an NBA-CBA coaching development program that could re-open the pipeline that allowed for the NBA emergence of since-retired Yao Ming” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/14).

GOING GLOBAL: Stern said, “We’re probably going to do $150 million this year in China, and we expect to grow in double digits as far into the future as we can see.” He added, “There’s both a chance of Chinese investors becoming involved in teams because China’s investors have become involved with the NBA, and if we’re asking them to invest in us in China, we would certainly be open to them investing in us in the USA” (Bloomberg TV, 10/14). In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote Stern’s legacy will be using stars “to popularize the game abroad.” There was a time when Stern “had dreams of a team or even a division in Europe, a first in American sports,” but that idea “seems to have fizzled along with the international economy and the lack of NBA-worthy venues overseas.” Stern last week in Milan said, “I don’t think having a single team in Europe is practical. I never have.” He added, “What I’ve said is if we’re going to have an NBA presence here in terms of the league, it should be five teams. It’s safe to say that there aren’t enough buildings, there aren’t adequate TV arrangements, we don’t have owners, and I’m not sure we could charge the prices that would be necessary. I don’t think our fans are that avid yet. But every year it gets better.” Stern said that “part of the problem is that European cities, where soccer rules day and night, are not financially prepared to build arenas to house anything more than an exhibition game.” Stern: “In one of my recent visits here, there was a discussion about both an arena in Rome that construction ceased upon, and the possibility that there would be a new arena in Milano in connection with the world expo, but that’s not happening, either” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14).

PROMOTING THE CITY: In Miami, Kathleen McGrory notes Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff attended yesterday’s Clippers-Heat game in Shanghai. Sarnoff said that he was “invited because he helped broker the deal that landed the Heat in Asia.” It all “started last year, when Sarnoff met with Shanghai Sports Bureau Director Li Yuyi.” Sarnoff said that Yuyi had traveled to Miami “in hopes of convincing the Heat to schedule a game in China.” When he had “no luck with team executives, he stopped by City Hall.” Sarnoff said, “I brought him over to the Heat arena and sat him down with (business operations president) Eric Woolworth.” Sarnoff also had “plans to meet with Chinese sports officials to discuss similar deals for other Miami sports franchises.” Sarnoff: “We’re going to talk about bringing the Dolphins over there” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/15).
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