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Thursday, 28 August 2008

NBA in China : Bucks v Warriors in October

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The NBA has announced that the Milwaukee Bucks will face the Golden State Warriors in The China Games, to be held in Beijing and Guangzhou on October 18 and 15, respectively. The Beijing game will be the first event staged in the arena after the Olympics and the Guangzhou game will be the NBA's first foray into that city.

No doubt the NBA are excited to have Yi Jianlian playing in China, after doing the same marketing exercise with Yao Ming previously. Whoops... you mean to say that Yi doesn't play for the Bucks any more? There's a good chance that the organising involved with getting this event ready took some time and this was before Milwaukee had pulled the pin on sending Yi to New Jersey.

At least the Bucks will be sporting one very happy camper in Damon Jones, who in 2006 was the first current American NBA player to sign a deal with a Chinese sportswear company, Li-Ning. His marketing efforts will be in overdrive in October presumably.

Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd will be able to hang out at all of their favourite Beijing nightspots (the Olympic Village and the InterContinental were apparently the only places they were allowed to be during the Games) again and show their teammates a good time.

Golden State will unfortunately be without Monta Ellis, who recently sustained a severe high ankle sprain and will likely be out 3-4 months. The Warriors team that hits China will have a very different look to that of last season, with Ellis out, Baron Davis in Los Angeles and Corey Maggette now on board.

The NBA has been concentrating its international efforts for some years on capitalising on the massive Chinese market. The continuation of the China Games is another step in marketing the product to the Chinese people, who embraced Team USA's NBA stars during the Beijing Olympics, second only to their own national team.

Tsingtao Beer
recently signed on as a major sponsor of the NBA in China and this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of major marketing deals. As the New York Times notes, the sports marketing and sponsorship market in China "has grown into a $15-billion-a-year industry, up from about $1 billion a year in 1994, according to Zou Marketing, a sports marketing consulting firm in Shanghai."

NBA stars are sports icons in China, which excites Stern and Co in a big way. The Times goes on to say, "more than most countries, sports marketing experts say, Chinese fans will back only athletes with personality and a long winning streak, meaning many top athletes may fall flat here."

The only thing that paragraph does is leave me confused as to how Tracy McGrady and Damon Jones have been so successful in the Chinese market.

Check out Brewhoop and Golden State of Mind for more previews on the 2008 China Games.

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