NBA finds growing popularity in China

Global Business

Along with the NBA’s mass appeal, comes one clear winner these days. And that team is the Golden State Warriors, who are the defending champions and also off to another hot start this season. The team’s success is also reaching new heights with Chinese fans.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

The Golden State Warriors have the sharp-shooting baby-faced assassin, Steph Curry, whose youthful face is all over billboards in China. They have NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who regularly visits China to market his Nike shoe line.

But they also have perennial All-star Klay Thompson, who during a summer trip to China had a blast. He endeared himself to Chinese fans by posting online his mishaps and his unique dancing. He went viral as #ChinaKlay.

The soft-spoken, low-key superstar is one of just a few NBA players that wear shoes by Chinese company Anta as part of a ten-year $80 million deal.

“I get a lot more creative input if I were to go with another big company. I’m technically the face of Anta,” Thompson said. “I’ll hopefully be an Anta lifer and pave the way for a lot of new NBA guys to embrace the Chinese market.”

“We traveled to China in 2013 with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as our opponent,” Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts said. “Kobe in particular would spend so much of his personal time in China developing his relationship with Chinese fans there and I think that was a wakeup call for our players. It was kind of stunning for them to see the reaction to Kobe there.”

Today in China, the Warriors lead the NBA in jersey sales, digital viewers and even followers on Chinese Social media Weibo.

It’s no surprise that the NBA has scheduled more Warriors games to be televised in China than other team.

“I think it’s great. Part of the business of the NBA is promoting our game worldwide,” Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. “We want to inspire them with our players, our talents, and our exciting games. China is obviously a frontier with so many people and so much passion for sports.”

The Warriors recently unveiled their new Chinese heritage uniform, which includes the Chinese characters for Warriors across the waist. They have gotten permission to wear them for a number of home and road games.

It’s not the first time they’ve done this; in fact, it’s the sixth time. One of the Warriors’ major sponsors is Chinese smartphone maker ZTE. And at the game, advertisements for Chinese rice wine is just business as usual.

Andre Richelieu discusses the NBA’s popularity in China

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Andre Richelieu, professor specialized in sports marketing about Beijing’s role in NBA’s financial growth.