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Basketball in China Part II: The Evolution II

07-27-2012 14:05 BJT

 

By Li Zhenyu

Before 1995, basketball careers were fostered mainly with State support. But, although competitive leagues had been developing rapidly, State funding could not be sustained, hindering further growth. Consequently, the game was professionalized.

In 1995, a Chinese version of the NBA, namely the Chinese Basketball Association, CBA for short, came into play.

After years of cultivation and development, the league has significantly improved, with a number of high-caliber players sprang up. Among those were Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, Yi Jianlian, Mengke Bateer and Sun Yue who have played in the NBA.

During the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, the player who received the most votes was neither Lebron James nor Kobe Bryant. It was Yao Ming, the first Chinese-born athlete to play successfully in the NBA.

Yao retired from basketball on July 20, 2011, leaving behind giant footprints on the NBA court.

The Chinese basketball authorities, previously fearing that players who go abroad will never return, now encourage players to get overseas experience, as China looks to raise its level of international competitiveness.

The CBA not only encourages local exports, but also welcomes foreign imports.

Being coordinated by both local sports committees and businesses, the clubs in the CBA are able to work with foreign investors, bring in foreign players and coaches, and freely trade players with other clubs.

In 1996 James Hodges became one of the first Americans to play in the CBA.

As the league becomes more professionalized, quite a few well-known international players have joined the CBA. Notable players include NBA All-Stars Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Kenyon Martin.

Some foreign players are a crucial part of their teams. A few have NBA experience. Many have played at American universities with good teams and have some experience playing in Europe, Argentina, Turkey or Israel or some other place.

Over the last decade, over 200 international players have participated in the CBA.

As of right now, the CBA has grown to be the No.1 basketball league in Asia, and some believe, within ten years, China will become one of the top four basketball powers in the world.

Li Zhenyu authors the "Beyond Gold" column for People's Daily Online.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: People's Daily

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