Category Archives: Basketball

Why Stephon Marbury is full of shit

Stephon Marbury is an extremely optimistic fellow. That’s part of what makes him so interesting and his infectious enthusiasm has gained him millions of fans here in China. The way in which he deals with the haters is admirable too: reposting messages of hate and wishing them all the best.

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Stephon Marbury: slightly insane

But he’s also full of shit. OK, so maybe that’s a little harsh – he’s often just trying to promote the sport of basketball here – but consider one of the things he said to the China Daily newspaper on Thursday:

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Michael Jordan and his Chinese alter ego

In today’s Sports Talk column, I look at the ongoing Jordan vs Qiaodan case. Qiaodan is a HUGE company here (1.7 billion yuan in revenue in 2012), and is keen to clear all obstacles on the road to IPO and further riches, but the whole company has for years pretended to be the official Michael Jordan representative in China. It’s not, of course, but it’s done a great job fooling the public.

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Completely different: note the closed fist on the Qiaodan silhouette

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Li Na makes list one year too late

After Time recently named Li Na as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people, my first thought was about the Timing (sorry). Her breakout performance was her French Open win in 2011, so why have they taken this long to put her on the list? Yes, her brand has continued to grow, but her main sponsors jumped on board in summer 2011, immediately after her Grand Slam win.

Anyway, the point of these lists is to generate discussion, so job done there. Interestingly, while many have predicted that Li Na would soon overtake Maria Sharapova as the world’s highest earning sportswoman, Sharapova’s recent deal with Porsche could keep her in the lead for a little while longer.

Here’s this week Sports Talk column:

Influence is a somewhat fluid concept, particularly in connection with Time Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

To say that Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli – one of just four sports figures on the list – is more influential than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is farcical.

Is he more colorful, more controversial? Yes, on both counts, and those factors sell magazines, so let’s forgive Time their poetic license.
Image Continue reading Li Na makes list one year too late

Catfight between China and Japan over basketball player

Citizenship is always an issue in China, or more specifically, changing your citizenship. For one thing, you tend to need a lot of money. Chinese movie stars have taken up residence in other countries and faced accusations of being a traitor, but crossing borders in the sports world can be even more controversial.

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Weekly Wrap: Beckham and Not Beckham

A round-up of what’s been happening this week (Beckham stuff at the end!):

Basketball

The NBA announced eight international preseason games for next season. For Asian fans that means Pacers vs Rockets, Manila, Oct 10; Pacers vs Rockets, Taipei, Oct 13; Lakers vs Warriors, Beijing, Oct 15; and Lakers vs Warrior, Shanghai, Oct 18.

ImageMeanwhile, Li-Ning’s Way of Wade campaign (featuring Dwyane Wade, who has “promised” to play in China when hes done with the NBA) hits back at “corny” allegations from LeBron James.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Beckham and Not Beckham

Miami Heat star “promises” to play in China

Here’s my Sports Talk column from today:

The rumors have been circulating for months, but now, for the first time, they have been aired in public. Last week, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose mentioned on his podcast that two-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has promised to play for a year in China after retiring from the NBA.

The big question is when. Wade is 31, so likely won’t be leaving the US anytime soon, but seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady arrived in China aged 33, so Wade’s year abroad could come sooner rather than later.

Dwyane Wade Way of Wade Li-NingIt’s important to stress that this is nothing more than rumor at this point – Wade’s agency CAA wouldn’t comment on the matter – but the reason the speculation won’t go away is, according to Chinese basketball blog NiuBBall.com’s Jon Pastuszek, that it simply makes a lot of sense.

Wade signed a massive contract with Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning last year – reportedly a nine-figure sum, including equity – but the headlines back home weren’t so generous, with the deal variously described as “bizarre” and a “terrible career move”. Wade’s promise to play in China, while likely not specified in writing, is thought to be linked to the Li-Ning agreement.

To be sure, there is certainly a lot of risk involved. Li-Ning’s share price has been tanking, and the company recently announced plans to raise funds to boost its flagging fortunes. Chinese brands, by Wade’s own admission, are not cool in the US, and Li-Ning’s focus has reverted to China after a failed attempt to enter the US market.

But for Wade, who would be the biggest name to play in the Chinese Basketball Association, the upside is clear. “If he’s truly serious about being the frontman for the company, playing a season in China would certainly be a huge boost to his brand,” says Pastuszek.

His “Way of Wade” Li-Ning sneakers are now on sale, and he’s also promoted other products in China.

Whether he’s up for the business challenge or attracted by the money, it’s not a given, Pastuszek says, that Wade will turn Li-Ning’s fortunes around and sell lots of shoes. “He does have a track record in that respect with Brand Jordan, but it’s going to be more of a long-term process with Li-Ning,” he said.

The framework is in place for Wade to hit it out of the park, but it’s equally likely that he could crash and burn. It should be interesting either way.

Abridged version in today’s Global Times.

Weekly Wrap: Rodman, Manny, Jaws and a big one!!

Today’s links have a US feel – basketball, baseball and football. Check them out:

Jon Pastuszek at Niubball has the scoop on who could be the next NBA superstar to play in the CBA (clue: it’s a BIG name!)

Way to take the high road: The Diplomat gets high-class reaction to Dennis Rodman’s North Korea visit, while Rumors & Rants references Kim Jong-Il’s legendary round of golf.

Manny Ramirez could end up playing baseball in Taiwan and The Hall of Very Good is hoping that Taiwan’s legendary animators NMA work their Manny magic once again. 

War Room Sports has an interview with Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, ESPN analyst and former Eagles QB and the man behind the Arena Football League’s push into China.

Weekly Wrap Pt 1: Beckham/CSL, Sina/PGA, Red Bull/CBA, F1/no one…

Beckham to take up CSL role

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Becks doing what he does best

China may have lost out in the recent David Beckham sweepstakes, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Beckham will become an international ambassador for the Chinese Super League, beginning this season.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap Pt 1: Beckham/CSL, Sina/PGA, Red Bull/CBA, F1/no one…

Weekly Wrap: F1, NBA, Tennis, MMA

Ferrari sign first Chinese sponsor

Weichai-193x97_070114Ferrari’s Formula One team has signed a four-year deal with Weichai Power. Somewhat surprisingly given Ferrari 20+ year history in China and the importance of the Chinese market, it is Ferrari’s first ever Chinese sponsor. Weichai, as I’m sure you know, produces mechanical components for heavy-duty vehicles, including buses.

Weichai Power’s parent company, the Weichai Group, already has Italian links: the company bought a majority stake in luxury yacht manufacturer Ferretti Group last year.

Continue reading Weekly Wrap: F1, NBA, Tennis, MMA

Is the end nigh for Li-Ning?

It seems the Li-Ning Tower really is leaning and is in danger of crashing down. The company’s shares have fallen more than 25% since January 21, including a sizeable drop last week after the company announced plans to raise up to HK$1.87 billion by issuing convertible securities. In construction terms, that’s an awful lot of scaffolding.

The news comes just one year after massive investment from TPG and GIC. The company’s press release talked of a deteriorating situation, a build-up of inventory, sales problems, poor productivity and profitability, worrying debt levels and a need to transform the business.

In other words, company fans are already covered.

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