Posted in Basketball at 7:23 am by Nicole

I’ve been waiting to comment on the Yi Jianlian situation for a while because it’s so unclear what’s going on and it doesn’t surprise me at all when confusing and conflicting media reports come out of China. First, Yi was said not to be joining the Milwaukee Bucks at all; then his club director said no, he had been misquoted; then Yi himself said that he was directing everything behind the scenes and it was his decision alone not to want to go to Milwaukee…and on and on. Yikes. This is what makes me realize just how astonishing a diplomat Yao Ming is, and how skillfully he has navigated the choppy waters that separate China’s basketball culture from the NBA – he would never have been caught up in such a public relations disaster. I found it laughable this week that Yao was criticized by the national team in the press for reportedly coming to the national training camp late – Yao is the best thing that has ever happened to Chinese basketball. Yi and Yao need to sit down and talk, because Yi and his people have some things to learn from Yao and his people.

NBA: Bucks GM upbeat about prospects of signing Yi (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, via the Honolulu Advertiser – July 24, 2007)

07/23/2007: Desmond Mason to Yi: Give Milwaukee a chance (Journal Times)

More news clips to come.


The MLB and China

Posted in Baseball at 10:42 am by Nicole

The story you’ve already heard a thousand times: Every major pro sports league in the world is dying to emulate the success of the NBA in marketing its sport to the Chinese masses. A quick cross-section of that group: ice hockey, baseball, Australian rules football, NFL (American) football, and rugby. To name just a few.

The story you’ve heard a few times in the last few weeks: The New York Yankees have signed two Chinese players, after having made the first inroads of any MLB team in getting into China and opening up an office there.

The story the Associated Press is reporting today (that you’ve heard a thousand times with various sports): building a fan base is going to be a challenge, because the Chinese don’t “get” baseball. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea? A lock for baseball popularity. The most populous nation on earth? Not so much…at least, not yet.

Lack of interest hurts baseball in China (The AP, via the New York Times)