Continuing with the ongoing theme of the week for the NBA, our Twitter feed takes us back to China. Former San Antonio Spurs small forward, now NBA analyst for ESPN, Bruce Bowen succinctly expressed the excitement that Chinese basketball fans have for the game. He sent out this tweet from Shanghai at the Miami Heat’s open practice:
To say that the Heat received a warm welcome would be an understatement. The Mercedes-Benz Arena, site of Sunday’s exhibition game against the Los Angeles Clippers, was packed, as can be seen in this NBA.com video.
The NBA has been making a huge push in recent years to broaden the global reach of the game. Exhibition games are merely the tipping point. News broke earlier this weekend in the New York Times—recently confirmed by NBA.com—that along with a Chinese partner, the NBA will open a 120,000 square-foot basketball center near Beijing.
David Barboza, of the NY Times, wrote:
The N.B.A. Center — a basketball extravaganza that will include a gym and an N.B.A.-themed cafe, a restaurant and a store as well as an interactive gaming area and a children’s zone — will be placed at the center of a $1.5 billion, 800-hectare, or 2,000-acre, property development being built by a Chinese company.
Perhaps, the NBA Center will be equally as overwhelming as the malls in China. As Jamal Crawford of the LA Clippers discovered for himself.
With a basketball center in the works and American NBA athletes signing lucrative endorsement contracts with Chinese athletic apparel companies, is it only a matter of time before we see an expansion team in the Far East? David Stern would say no — too far.
Perhaps, as Bowen suggests, China is ready. Only time will tell.
Michael Brumagin is the “Tweet of the Day” columnist for Sheridan Hoops and a sports column Contributor for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter and read more of his writing on B/R: