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This week, a potential trade between the Houston Rockets and the Sac o’ Shit Kings was announced that would send Ron Artest to my hometown team. In reaction, Yao told the Houston Chronicle that he was optimistic but that he hoped “(Artest’s) not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands.” Artest then responded to Yao’s comments in the Sacramento Bee:
“I understand what Yao said, but I’m still ghetto,” Artest said. “That’s not going to change. I’m never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don’t think he’s ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he’ll understand what I’m about.
If you go back to the brawl, that’s a culture issue right there. Somebody was disrespecting me, so he’s got to understand where I’m coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed.”
In this day and age of NBA players meticulously cultivating their image to appeal to advertisers and fans, I find Artest’s statement nothing short of incredible. Commissioner David Stern, who’s spearheaded efforts in the NBA to essentially de-ghettoize the league–whether it’s with a ludicrous dress code or wanting to impose gun restrictions on players–has got to be p-issed! And anything that pisses off
Big Brother pants splooger David Stern is alright by me.
Except talking about yourself in the third person.
This week, Houston Rockets mascot Clutch, the morbidly obese bear, scored a shoe deal with Chinese athletic apparel company Anta. Anta also recently signed Rockets head coach Rick Adelman as a consultant and gave endorsements to Rocket players Bonzi Wells, Steve Francis, and Luis Scola…NONE OF WHOM ARE STARTERS. And why is everyone and their mascot suddenly getting sponsored?
“All of these people,” said Chien Lu, head of international marketing for Anta, “have touched Yao Ming. They have sat in proximity to him on the bench while he was catching his breath. They have tasted the odor of his armpits on their tongues. And whatever touches Yao Ming turns to gold.”
Upon receiving the good news that the NBA and its mascots are winning the hearts and minds of a billion people one sorta good player at a time, league commish David Stern splooged his pants and celebrated the holidays early.*
*Everything in this story is true except for that nonsense about the bear. Though Clutch is, in fact, morbidly obese and will be appearing on The Biggest Loser: Mascot Edition next season.
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was named Western Conference Playa of the Week yesterday after averaging 27.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks two weeks into the season. This acknowledgment was the perfect capper to last Saturday’s highly-touted Yao-Yi showdown, where Yao and his Rockets won 104-88.
The most impressive numbers from that game didn’t come from the Chinese ballers, however. Chinese sports commentators estimate that the match–dubbed “The Super Bowl” by China Daily–drew 100 to 200 million viewers in their home country, causing NBA
evil mastermind commish David Stern to splooge all over his suit pants and have a fantastic weekend.
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).
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.
As I was posting yesterday about NBA officiating, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to read a dissertation by some really smart dude at MIT breaking down how bad officiating is in the league?”
And then, I sort of got my wish. The NYT reports today, “Study of N.B.A. Sees Racial Bias in Calling Fouls“:
A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.
And Big Brother’s response?
N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern said in a telephone interview that the league saw a draft copy of the paper last year, and was moved to do its own study this March using its own database of foul calls…
“We think our cut at the data is more powerful, more robust, and demonstrates that there is no bias,” Mr. Stern said.
So let’s get this straight. One U Penn professor and one Cornell graduate student do a study that covers 13 SEASONS of officiating in the NBA, and Big Brother Stern does one for ONE MAYBE TWO MONTHS and that study is “more powerful” and “more robust”?
Big Brother, dude, your numbers just don’t add up.
Click here for full story.