SPORTS ILLUSTRASIAN: The NBA Goes to Ka-China

October 19th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

We haven’t written about Ka-Ching-Chong in a while (please refer to its definition in the DISGRASIAN dictionary if you are Ka-nfused), so let’s have a little refresher, shall we? Ka-Ching-Chong is a marketing strategy that has come of age in the new millennium, when mega-multinational corporations realized the consumer potential of Asia, specifically China, with its billions of dollars, er, I mean, people.

In the sports world, no one’s got their eye fixed more firmly on the Ka-Ching-Chong prize than the NBA. This week, the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to Shanghai and Macau for exhibition games against each other and the Chinese national team (minus Yao and Yi for unexplained reasons).

Orlando’s Dwight Howard goin’ native


While it’s fantastic that LeBron James is learning Mandarin and nicknamed “Little Emperor” (Xiao Huang Di) in China, and that even Steve Francis can get a shoe deal there, and the Chinese revere lan chou (basketball)–I never played more pickup games in my life than in the year I spent there, and I suck at it–the marketing of the almighty NBA to the Chinese market is so crass and unabashed, I find it kinda revolting. It’s like sex without foreplay. It’s like the wham-bam without the thank-you, ma’am. The AFP reports:

“China is the number one market for the NBA outside the US,” said Matt Bourne, NBA spokesman told AFP ahead of the pre-season games…

“In the United States the development of basketball has already reached a certain saturation point,” Li Yuanwei, chief of the CBA told the Basketball Pioneers…”China is huge and it’s a unified market so that’s why China has the chance to follow after Europe and develop the world’s only newly flourishing professional basketball market.”

According to ESPN, David “Big Brother” Stern also told CCTV5, the major sports channel in China, that he expected this to be “the biggest year ever for the NBA in China.”

You know, I’m happy when a day goes by where I don’t have to hear another xenophobic, shoddy piece of reporting about how China is trying to poison us, nuke us, or take over our country in some sneaky, sinister way (though they could do better in many other areas–see this week’s DOTW). But it doesn’t really make me feel better that we’re trying to do the same thing to them.

Oh, and P.S., China’s not a “market.” It’s a country. Full of PEOPLE. Shocking, I know.

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