NBA China conducts all the league’s businesses in Greater China. It was formed in January 2008 after its first office opened in Hong Kong in 1992. NBA China is controlled by the National Basketball Association and invested by five strategic partners who collectively hold 11% of the company: Bank of China Group Investment, Legend Holdings Limited, Li Ka Shing Foundation, China Merchants Investments and ESPN, a division of The Walt Disney Company. NBA China is headquartered in Beijing and has offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei.
The NBA has interacted with Chinese basketball for decades, including first hosting the Chinese National team in 1985 and regularly providing training for the Team through U.S. coaching clinics, exhibition matches against NBA G-League teams and an invitation to the 2007 NBA Summer League. The NBA currently has relationships with a strong network of television and digital media outlets in China, including a partnership with national broadcaster CCTV that started in 1986, the national IPTV platform BesTV, and prominent digital media partners such as Tencent and Weibo. The league hosts hundreds of touring basketball events for fans, conducts community enrichment programs, and maintains marketing partnerships with a combination of world-class Chinese corporations and multinationals. In 2004, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to play games in China, with two games between the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings in Shanghai and Beijing. Following NBA Global Games China 2016, 13 NBA teams have played 22 games in Greater China.
NBA licensed products such as apparel and footwear are available through various retail networks and authorized online stores on e-commerce and social media platforms, including Tmall.com, JD.com and WeChat. As for brick and mortar retail, NBA China has close to 200 NBA Stores in China, selling adult fashion and lifestyle apparel.
2017 marked NBA China’s sixth celebration campaign for Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year campaign serves as a platform for the NBA to say thank you to Chinese fans around the world, and connect with new ones. In 2017, the showcase featured 59 live games over 17 days across 10 broadcasters and, for the first time, included all 30 teams. Each year, NBA teams participate by competing in special Chinese New Year jerseys, and celebrate with in-arena activations, including team introductions in Chinese, courtside signage, and traditional Chinese performances.
One of NBA China’s key initiatives is basketball development in China. In 2014, NBA China and the Ministry of Education formed a comprehensive multiyear partnership to incorporate a fitness and basketball development curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools across China. NBA players, legends and coaches on a regular basis visit Chinese schools to conduct basketball clinics and provide specialized instruction to Chinese coaches and physical education teachers. The partnership also provides Chinese coaches and physical education teachers selected by the Ministry of Education with the opportunity to observe and participate in coaching activities organized by the NBA. The partnership with the Ministry of Education builds on the NBA's basketball and youth development efforts in China. In February 2014, NBA China and Yao Ming launched the first ever after-school tuition-based basketball program in Beijing, providing basketball training and fitness programs for boys and girls at all skill levels, while also teaching the importance of teamwork, leadership and communication in a fun basketball environment and currently, this program is offered in both Beijing and Shanghai. In September 2011, the CBA Dongguan Basketball School, an NBA Training Center, was launched for elite players ages 12-17, in partnership with the owner of the CBA Shenzhen Leopards. Together the CBA Dongguan Basketball School and CBA/NBA joint coaching program have trained more than 2,000 youth and coaches, with very positive results and learnings. The School’s junior team has won the China U17 National Championship. This is the school’s 8th championship across the four junior and youth divisions in which it competes.
As part of the global initiative, the NBA launched NBA Academies, an international elite development initiative that will consist of a network of elite training centers around the world to develop top international male and female prospects. As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stressed: “Nothing is more important than to grow the game of basketball here in China,” Silver said. “We’re thankful for the terrific reception we’ve had in China. It’s very important that we give back as well. One of our means of giving back is to help develop elite players here. Elite players that can play in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), elite players who can bring glory to their country through the national team and elite players who maybe can play in the National Basketball Association one day.” In April 2017, the first three academies opened in the Chinese cities of Urumqi, Jinan and Hangzhou in partnership with the provincial/municipal sports authorities. Each academy is staffed with NBA-trained coaches, funded by NBA China, to help foster the development of prospects on and off the court, both during and after their basketball careers.
Yao Ming’s recent appointment as President of the Chinese Basketball Association has strengthened NBA China’s resolve to continue to devote substantial efforts to player development in China. In addition, one of the State Council’s express directives on basketball reform is that Chinese players should receive more foreign training and access to foreign competition. NBA China anticipates forming more partnerships with Chinese sports authorities, including partnerships directly with the CBA’s junior national and youth teams.
Besides NBA China’s partnership with the Ministry of Education and the NBA Academies, NBA China continues to invest in the development of basketball in China through Jr. NBA league competitions and various coaches’ clinics, from grassroots to elite player development. By the end of 2017, NBA China aims to have 2,000 schools participating in our Jr. NBA programs and league competitions reaching 500,000 students. Basketball development amongst both elite and grassroots sectors is and will continue to be one of the key strategic objectives of NBA China, in support of the State Council’s policy goals to promote sport and health amongst youth in China.