Growth Of NBA Spurs New Facilities And Training Centers In China
The NBA is opening a $1.5B, 2,300-acre "sports and entertainment superstructure" on the outskirts of Beijing according to Steve Ginsberg of REUTERS. The "glitzy 'lifestyle destination' complex" features an official basketball court, a hoop-themed restaurant and a children's zone. NBA Int'l President Heidi Ueberroth said, "China is our number one market outside of the United States. The growth has been very significant and very much on track, and we are very much still just scratching the surface." The Heat and the Clippers played two preseason games in China in '12 and "the knowledge of NBA history by the fans stunned league officials." NBA China CEO David Shoemaker said, "Bill Russell came to our preseason games in October. And in both Beijing and Shanghai ... we're talking about a young generation of fans here ... we introduced Bill Russell to them without any real description of what he did. Standing ovation in both arenas. It was amazing." The NBA has "capitalized on its popularity by establishing the Chinese Basketball Association Dongguan Basketball School and NBA Training Center for potential pros." Former NBA player Yao Ming "was the catalyst for the NBA's soaring popularity in China but the now-retired eight-time All-Star plays down his influence in the game's popularity." Yao said, "Basketball had a big influence in China, even before the NBA got there." Ueberroth, who hopes to bring the NBA's "blueprint for success" to countries like India, Brazil and the Philippines, said that Africa "is fertile ground." Ginsberg opined that "the still burgeoning success of the league in China may be hard to duplicate." NBA apparel and footwear "is sold in more than 2,200 Adidas stores in the country of at least 1.3 billion people" (REUTERS, 2/22).