MR LEE, MR LIN, MR YI, MR YAO and MR WOW!

Mr. Yen Ju Lee (a UDM PhD student in Clinical Psy and a wild NBA fan) was chatting with us recently about the

incredible growth of basketball in China. To embellish his point, he showed us a pic of a statue of Stephon

Marbury outside of the Beijing Ducks arena that reminded us of MJ’s statue outside of the United Center. Oh,

did we mention Marbury was just honored by the Beijing Gov. as the #1 “Role Model” of 2014 (one & ONLY

foreigner / sportsperson EVER to be so honored). Our 1st reaction was NO Way! Our 2nd reaction was tell us MORE! Thx

to Mr Lee’s fertile mind, imaginative initiative & committed research, this Scope exists. Our story starts with China,

1 mammoth basketball crazed nation. If there ever was a “slam dunk” of biz in Beijing and for the rest the land of

The Great Wall,” it is BASKETBALL. (For starters, let’s compare CHI’s pop of 2.7 M to Beijing’s 21 M+. GET THE IDEA?!)

The Chinese American population in the US is about 3.8 M (US’ Census Bureau, American Fact Finder). The 5 Biggest Chinese populations in the continental US can be found in NYC (486,463 or 6%), SF (172,181 or 21.4%), SJ (63,434 or 6.7%) & CHI (43,228 or 1.6%). 4 of those 5 cities have an NBA franchise. The rest of the story is that of the 20 Chinese Basketball Assn teams, 18 play in cities bigger than CHI, 12 are in cities bigger than LA & 5 in cities that are bigger than NYC WOW!

The population of the US is 319 M±. On avg about 15.5 M watched the NBA Finals last yr; about 21.2 M watched

the NCAA Finals last yr; and about 26.3 M play basketball. The NBA was founded in 1946 and there are 30 teams.

The population of China is 1.4 B. There are 450 M basketball fans and 300 M who play basketball. The Chinese

Basketball Assn (CBA) was founded in 1995. There are 20 teams. (To discover who Mr LIN, YI & YAO are, please

read on).

For the 1st time in NBA All-Star Wknd history the Rising Stars game (which historically has had rookies go against the 2nd year NBA players) had US born players balling against International born players. The international players won the game with a roster composed of players from 10 different countries showing the NBA’s commitment to growing global ballers. Though NO Chinese players played in the game and there are NO active Chinese players playing in the NBA, China today is the “plum” (plum pudding?) of the Association. FYI, Jeremy Lin (LA Lakers) is the 1st NBA player to be American of Chinese descent. With that said, many former NBA players have played and are playing in the CBA. The NBA clearly sees the connection b/t its sport and the Chinese market. As a result, this year it will honor its biggest international fan base by celebrating the Chinese New Year in their games b/t Feb 19th – Mar 4th. The NBA is looking to make a lot of chee$$$$$$$$e in 2015, the Year of the Goat!

The NBA’s Chinese New Year celebration will include a record 56 live broadcasted games in China featuring almost every NBA franchise. This celebration begins with the Golden State Warriors & Houston Rockets who will both be wearing specially designed uniforms to pay tribute to Chinese fans & their culture (these items are now on sale at the The Rockets & Warriors will debut their Chinese uniforms on Feb 20th against the Mavericks, & Spurs, respectively. The Rockets & Warriors will wear the special unis a combined 16 times during this celebration. These 2 teams happen to have emerging NBA superstars on their rosters in Steph Curry & James Harden. They are featured in NBA’s TV ad promoting its Chinese New Year celebration. Curry & Harden were also prominently featured at NBA All-Star Wknd in New York City from 2/13 to 2/15 (and were Western Conference starters & participants in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest.) Other teams in the league are paying tribute to Chinese culture with fan giveaways, musical performances, dancers, food and courtside signage. As part of its China connection, the NBA is dedicating a new basketball court in the Fujian Province this year as well as donating 1,600+ basketballs to elementary school students in China’s 34 provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative zones. The NBA sent basketball legend Gary Payton to Shanghai (population of 22 M) to conduct a clinic for Special Olympic Athletes. The NBA & the Ministry of Education of China recently announced a multiyear partnership to promote fitness and basketball skill development in schools across China. This partnership is aiming to provide basketball skills training for 3 M students by 2017. And yes, “Basketball Diplomacy” is on fast break b/t the NBA & China. But how did this partnership come to fruition you ask? The “Ming Dynasty” will answer that question,below.

CBA Team$ & $$$$

The CBA was founded in 1995. There are currently 20 teams. It has playoffs and an All Star game like the NBA. As previously mentioned, a # of former NBA players have play(ed) in the CBA including, Stephon Marbury, Delonte West, Gilbert Arenas Jr. and Tracy McGrady. CBA teams are allowed as many as 2 foreign players on their rosters, or 3 if the team finished in the Bottom 5 of the league. The Brave Dragons were recently sold to a Beijing-based investment group for $19.4M. Other teams such as the Beijing Ducks (13’-14’ champ) & Xinjiang Flying Tigers (13’-14’ runner-up) have great financial support. The Ducks are sponsored by China’s largest construction material conglomerate and the Flying Tigers’ owner (Xinjiang Guanghui Grp Co., Ltd., an energy firm with a $40 B net worth) is not shy about spending money on the team. According one of former owners of CBA teams, many teams have been investing more and more money with an avg $6 M-$8 M per team per yr and some owners have invested more than $16 M.(NiuBBall)

Staying with our $$$$ theme, in 2011 Knowledge Wharton Upenn noted that the NBA’s revenue in China was growing at 30% – 40% per yr and that NBA China now represented ½ of NBA’s international $ale$. WOW! Our final contribution to our $$$$ di$cu$$ion is that the highest pd CBA player is former BKN NetsAndray Blatche (Flying Tigers). This season he makes $2.5 M (Bleacher Report, $ept 2014).


The NBA & Chinese partnership this year didn’t just happen overnight. It has been a long, long time coming. The origin for this partnership can be traced back to 1987 when the 1st ever NBA game was broadcasted in China (MJ was ONLY in his 4th yr, then). The NBA & the Chinese partnership really began in 2002 when Yao Ming became the 1st Chinese citizen to be selected #1 overall in the NBA Draft. Yao Ming gathered a lot of attention for the NBA. He was an 8 time All-Star & made an All-NBA team 5 times. During the “Ming Dynasty” the NBA avg’d 30 M (in 2009 ABC avg’d 3.7 M viewers per game [TV by the numbers]) Chinese viewers every week & in 2007 when Mr. Ming faced off against NBA rookie & fellow countryman, Yi Jianlian, 100 M Chinese viewers watched. (Just 4 the record, in 2007 the Super Bowl drew 93.2M viewers) Yao captured the Chinese audience while he played in the league. In 2005 he set an all-time record of 2,558,278 All-Star votes. Thx to China’s voting support, he broke Michael Jordan’s 1997 record of 2,451,136. No matter the record, you take notice when someone passes “Air Jordan” in anything and Mr. Ming did! In 2009 Yao Ming purchased his former CBA team the Shanghai Sharks, Yao started playing for the Sharks at the ripe old age of 13! (Huh, may be some former NBA player will buy an NBA team, someday?)

From NYC to SF to HST

What do the above BIG CITIES have in common besides being TOP 15 US cities in population and having an

NBA team? The answer is that each has a MAJOR Chinatown. NYC’s Chinese American population is the

US’s largest at 486,500±. SF has the 2nd largest Chinese Am population in the continental US and HST’s

Chinese Am with well over 30,000 is #8, today. Our point in this parade of 3 headlined BIG CITIES is that they

are ideal. The Big Apple feted the All Star Game. SF (Golden State Warriors) with the 2nd biggest Chinese

population and HST is the team where the “biggest” Chinese basketball star ever, Yao Ming played! Just for

the record of the 11 cities with the largest Chinese population in the continental US, 8 have NBA franchises.

In order of Chinese population, those 11 are NYC, SF, LA, San Jose, CHI, SD, OAK, HST, PHI, SEA & BOS. (Franchised cities are bolded.)

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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