NBA bemoans lack of Chinese Basketball Players

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) used to be NBA’s backyard where ageing professionals from the United States are celebrated like gods, but times have changed.

Despite the fact that a lot of Chinese sportsmen have made great impact in the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver says he’s worried that the number of imports have reduced greatly in recent times.

Image: Adam Silver

Blame the trend on China’s love affair with the sport as well as its government’s dedication to arousing people’s love for basketball.

Yao Ming’s countrymen have always loved ‘the dunking game’ even before his exit from the game in 2002. Jeremy Lin and Miao Lijie are a few other examples of those players who have left their marks in the sands of time.

Chinese players are no longer in a rush to move over to America in search of greener pastures. Instead, the CBA has invested its resources in recruiting foreign players who make the game more attractive and competitive.

Image: Yao Ming (Center).

“It should be acknowledged that U.S. players make the game more fun,” says Yi Yang, a CCTV basketball commentator and deputy editor of Titan Weekly.

“The import players – especially former NBA players – are faster, they jump higher, and they have better explosive forces and higher physical quality.

“From 2007 to 2009, the CBA loosened its policy on recruiting foreign players, giving the Chinese teams a chance to employ them more freely,” the US-China Daily wrote. “Prior to 2007, a Chinese team could only have one import player during the season and was not permitted to change the player over the course of the season.

“In addition, import players were only permitted to play a limited number of minutes each game.

“However, this policy was relaxed for the 2007-2008 season. Every CBA team was allowed to change its import player twice, and in the 2008-2009 season, the CBA allowed each team to have two import players and the time limitation was canceled. All CBA teams except for the People’s Liberation Army team employed foreign players. The Army’s August First (Bayi) team’s players are all soldiers.”

The NBA commissioner says there’s need for China to have more representation in the US, adding that he feels great pain that there are no Chinese players in the league right now.

He spoke with reporters, according to a Newsweek report, shortly before Thursday’s Game 1 in the NBA Finals which was played in Oakland.

“There’s probably more basketball being played in China than anywhere else in the world,” Silver said of the country’s undying love for the game. “And more NBA basketball is being watched in China than anywhere else in the world.”

Only two Chinese players – Zhou Qi by the Houston Rockets and Wang Zhelin by the Memphis Grizzlies – were selected during last year’s draft, but the commissioner says he has consulted Yao Ming for help.

The 36-year-old retired Chinese basketball player previously signed for Shanghai Sharks in the CBA before joining Houston Rockets. Among his many medals, Ming was an 8-time member of NBA’s All-star team.

He’s now leading the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

Image: Adam Silver

Although Silver praised Ming’s commitment toward improving the prospects for Chinese basketball, he added that they both need to ‘increase the pool of top-notch Chinese players.’

“I think it will have a great impact on our league,” the commissioner added, “and I think it will be good for Chinese basketball as well.”

Adam Silver, an American lawyer, has held the position of NBA’s commissioner since 1 February, 2014.