China Sports Business Weekly Special: The Game That Never Happened #NBAChinaGames
Updated: Dec 5, 2019
What a week it has been here in China. Instead of adding any further colour to the discussion, we’ll simply share the moment we witnessed last night in Shanghai at the first NBA China Game.
A few of us attended the game in what will be immortalised in sporting history in China and likely the world. And it didn’t disappoint, ending with an almost buzzer-beater for a Lakers loss.
The crowd looked almost at capacity, the spirit was high, plenty of anticipation in the arena as the pre-game was underway, everyone in attendance not knowing what to expect. It was smooth, with a great performance of digital theatrics and cheerleading before the game got underway.
The fans were largely enthusiastic about the game. They cheered as each star was welcomed to the court, they laughed at the jumbotron featuring comedic ‘Chinese culture’ player-led videos, they chanted ‘ MVP, MVP’ as LeBron took to the free-throw line and in the last minute of the game, everyone was on their feet. All this, while paying respect to their national pride. Some featuring marks crossing the NBA logo out on the back of their Lakers jerseys with more holding Chinese flags in support of the great nation.
Yet no sponsors. No branding. Not even Gatorade bottles had the plastic branded wrap around it. The floors had been covered, or in some areas, sanded back to lose the once event partner logos.
The players entertained, they did what they do best. Although Kyrie Irving went out with an apparent issue to the face in the first 2 minutes, the big stars of LeBron, AD and Brooklyn’s new fan fav DeAndre Jordan all starred. Some of us were sitting behind the Lakers bench which featured a jovial LeBron James engaging with the audience, smiling and when leaving the court gave away his sweaty collectables. He was in good spirits.
It was a game that may never have happened, a game that represented so much but at the same time ended representing nothing more than a basketball game featuring the world’s best players. There was no overt display to nationalism or disrespect for each country. Fans, western or Chinese enjoyed each other’s company and celebrated in the experience. It was a fun night.
We wish you could have been there!
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Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here.