Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 10:34 am  |  40 responses

What The Redeem Team Means For The NBA In China

The NBA will be back in Beijing soon.

by Alan Paul

When the USA basketball team stood on the gold medal stand today for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games, they not only brought glory to the their country but also to their regular employers; the National Basketball Association.

Already a large presence in China, the NBA has only seen its stature increased with the excellent performance of its star players. Any American talking about to any Chinese these days is likely to hear about “how strong” the basketball team is. And, of course, with a huge worldwide TV audience, the impact of the “Redeem Team’s” strong play will be felt way beyond the host country.

The international expansion and growth of basketball began in 1992 with the original Dream Team, featuring Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and other legends of the game. It was the first time professional players appeared in the Olympics and it went a huge way towards spreading the game and helping its popularity surge. It is now second only to soccer in international popularity.

Major League Baseball might want to take a good hard look at these significant international strides and consider what it is missing out on by keeping their season going and their players out of the Olympics.

Here in China, NBA players are superstars of the first degree, as the cheers that greet the introductions of the entire American team, but especially Lebron James and Kobe Bryant make clear. NBA players from other nations, like Andrei Kirilenko, Dirk Nowtizki, Manu Ginobli, Luis Scola and Pau Gasol also receive far more adulation here than any of their teammates.

“You can find an NBA game any day of the season anywhere in China,” said Chinese National Team Coach Sarunas Kazlauskas. “But you can search high and low and never find a European League game. Even my own players are awestruck being on the court with the NBA players.”

Now, the NBA is launching NBA China, a separate venture with the Chinese Basketball Association. Details have to be announced but are expected to be this fall. The Wukesong Beijing Olympic Basketball Arena is likely to become NBA China’s first venue, though the League is expected to build more such arenas across the country.

The League took unprecedented control of the building’s construction, and early renderings showed the NBA logo projected onto the bamboo-like aluminum ribbons that adorn the arena’s exterior. They ultimately made changes that added as much as $47 million to the arena’s approximately $162 million price, according to the developers. The NBA brought-in the American architect who worked on the Rockets’ home court, Houston’s Toyota Center. The league had input on everything from scoreboard and concession-stand design to seat padding. It made sure the arena had Western toilets in the bathrooms, not squat models.

When they made all of these decisions and spent all that money, NBA officials and even the developers were no doubt imagining the very scene that took place this afternoon. Bryant, James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and their eight other teammates—each of them NBA players—stood front and center of the arena floor, atop the gold medal podium, soaking in the adulation of the crowd, dropping their heads and having gold medals draped across their necks.

They stood tall, medals on necks, rose bouquets in their hands, showing both pride and joy, as the Star Spangled Banner blasted through the Olympics Basketball Arena. It will not be the last time the NBA makes a mark in this arena.

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  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    What’s the difference a Western toilet and one that is not? Not trying to be funny, but I didn’t know the toilets were different in China.

  • riggs
  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    stern doesnt care about human rights just the almighty dollar, or uh euro.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Riggs: is that for real??

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @TADOne: Yeah.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Actually, you usually have both “Asian” toilets and regular “Western” ones in many of the big cities in Asia now. In my many weeks of bathroom cleaning duty as a recruit/private I got intimately acquainted with both varieties.

  • michael

    Love how some media people are trying to put Lebrons popularity on the same level as Kobe in China even though it’s clearly not.

  • scott

    Now that the summer games are over there is nothing going on. Slam should run down a list of the top 50 NBA players to get us through this tough time.

  • jaime

    yeah seriously… something… dont like college football and nfl too much

  • Z

    @ michael : U mad?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @Scott: Just wait :-)

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Ryne, whatever “just wait” entails, can it be done without comments being allowed? I kind of like not being on the banned list. :)

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Ryne, don’t play with me man! If yall are having the top 50 nba players…my goodness it’s on! I’ve been wanting some e-beef for the longest.

  • http://Spaceshipjaymyspace.com Spaceship Jay

    DAMN Chris Bosh is ugly.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    @Eboy: Comments will be allowed…and beef is to be expected (just be cool).

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    @Ryne: LET BRUNO DO IT!!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    It all depends on who get’s voted as #1, Ryne.

  • http://kb24.com Bigi

    Shawn Bradley??

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Sabonis of course!

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Eboy: I’m going to have a top 50 list when this comes out. You better have one too.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Paul Pierce.

  • Heals

    Be careful Team USA I wouldn’t be bitin on those medals, especially with what China is putting in dog food and kid’s toys…

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Thanks for this and all your recent posts, Alan. As far as I’m concerned you were a Slamonline Olympic co-MVP with Lang and Nick Rotunno.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    I co-sign that, Ben. Thanks Alan!

  • Bruno

    did Snoop Doggy Dog played for team USA????

  • David

    Separated at birth for Chris Bosh: http://tinyurl.com/6y6rqc

  • Bleek

    Slam we need a DWADE cover! Put him on w/ his gold medal, ring, nba championship & mvp trophies. Shut the haters up. He deserves it. he was always the best player on the court doing everything he could to help the team win. LeBron has about 2,000 more covers and has accomplished about half of what Wade has to this point. MVP race is gonna be crazy this year.

  • http://slamonline.com Alan Paul

    Welcome all. I loved it, every minute.

    Bosh was great all tourney. I could write a whole spot about how annoying parts of their performance were in that gold medal game, but that would be uncouth.

  • http://slamonline.com Alan Paul

    and yeah.. that photo captures the squatty toilets perfectly.

  • Yunki

    Those squat toilets are in a lot of third world countries. You guys need to get out more for real

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    YES! Top 50! Finally! I missed the majority of the last one. E-BEEF! And Eboy can be banned again lol.

  • chintao

    $162 mil. for Wukesong? That place sucks. The construction is shoddy. The upper level access is dark and labyrinthine. The restrooms are poorly ventilated, claustrophobic (low ceilings and small floor area), and wholly inadequate for the needs of a capacity crowd. The concessions stands are mere alcoves with no facilities for food preparation or (re-)heating, unless one counts the hot dog rotisserie (can turn a maximum of about six dogs at a time) and the solitary microwave, which is puny and of questionable design and functionality. I don’t blame the Houston arena’s designer, because it is typical for there to be a large gap between design and construction here. My personal suspicion is that this area is where the graft gets taken off the top. It just infuriates me that Beijing has embarrassed itself in this way.

  • http://basketball-basic.com BBasic

    I thought the man in the photo is PDiddy, lol

  • scott

    Let me get the top 50 started. By the way this is impossible. I tried to make a list the other day and could change this list on a daily basis. Anyways, number 50 Mike Dunleavy.

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  • Exile

    Re: Toilets: You should see what the Iraq/Afghans do to the porta potties on our FOBs. Standing on the seats and stuff… They think we are messed up for sitting down. Hope China likes the idea….

  • Jelte

    Why are cigars suddenly cool when you have won? A substitute for other similiair types of products, which NBA players seem to favor?

  • chintao

    @ Exile Aug.26 at 2:20 pm ===> The same sh*t happens over here. People can’t get used to the idea of their asses touching something that lots of other asses also have touched. One last thing on the arena, the seats themselves are comfortable, but the legroom feels like it was calculated based off measurements from the Qin dynasty. Modern Chinese people are way too big to fit in such small spaces.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Yo thats why you put down toilet paper before you sit down. For hygiene. Then you wash your hands after. Toilets are so diverse. *sighs*.

  • http://sdfjkl.com Jukai

    Jelte: They have been “cool” since the 50s. Learn basketball history, then post.