Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
March 20, 2017: The NBA is strengthening ties with China and continuing to make inroads with fans and consumers, the latest move being the unveiling of two games to be played there next preseason as part of the league’s overall Global Games platform.
NBA Global Games China 2017 presented by Master Kong will feature two preseason games between the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves: Oct. 5 in Shenzhen in the Shenzhen Universiade Center and Oct. 8 in Shanghai in the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
The games will mark the Warriors' third trip to China following visits in 2008 and 2013; the Timberwolves will be playing in China for the first time.
The inclusion of the Timberwolves was inspired in part by Lizhang Jiang, a China businessman, who acquired a 5% ownership stake in the franchise this past July.
The NBA said that the two-game series would be supported by promoter iRENA Group and by a "robust roster of marketing and merchandising partners." The games will be available worldwide on TV, digital and social media.
"We are committed to bringing live NBA games to our passionate and growing fanbase in China," Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, said in a statement. "Beyond the action on the court, these visits allow our teams and players to experience a different culture and bond with one another through community service, fan events and involvement in the local community."
The two games are expected to include a plethora of NBA stars, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green with the Warriors; and Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony towns, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio with the Timberwolves.
Curry has made trips to China through his deal with Under Armour; Durant has been there via his deal with Nike.
Thompson has a shoe deal with Anta, based in China.
Among others who have toured China for their shoe brands include LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, and Kobe Bryant. Yao Ming, who was a star in China before playing with the NBA's Houston Rockets for nine seasons — and being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year — is one of the most popular athletes opf all-time in his native country.
Among its ties to China, the NBA has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei; works closely with the Chinese Basketball Assn., has a deal with Tencent to stream games via mobile, airs games via BesTV, has a dedicated Web site in Chinese, sells its products in upward of 50,000 locations and has a NBA Playzone family-themed destination in Shanghai.
The NBA also celebrates Chinese New Year in the U.S. with a multi-media campaign and products.
Following NBA Global Games China 2017, 14 NBA teams would have played 24 games in Greater China since 2004, in Beijing, Guangzhou, Macao, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei.
According to NBA China CEO David Shoemaker, "The Warriors and Timberwolves will continue to showcase the authentic NBA experience in China this fall, and we are proud that following these games, nearly half of the league will have played in front of fans in China.
"The popularity of the NBA in China is at an all-time high, and the Warriors and Timberwolves will see that excitement firsthand in October."
NBA Global Games China 2017 will have numerous activations, including the sixth annual Fan Appreciation Day presented by Dongfeng Nissan (Oct. 7 in Shanghai). The league and its partners will conduct NBA Cares community events in both cities.
This past offseason, the Houston Rockets played the New Orleans Pelicans in Shanghai and then in Beijing.
NBA Global Games have also included London, Paris, Berlin and Mexico City among its destinations.
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