Another year, another CBA All-Star weekend that was okay but still probably wasn’t going to make anyone sit up and take notice. Indeed, with Chinese audiences more interested in the country’s soccer team making it three wins in a row in the Asian Cup, the CBA was in the shadows despite basketball being the traditional winter sport of the Middle Kingdom. This though was probably for the best given that for the neutrals and casual fans, the same flaws were still present and correct; naff dunk contest, crappy uniforms and more than a few empty seats in chilly Beijing.
Anyway, the most important takeaway from the whole weekend is that MICHAEL BEASLEY SCORED 59 POINTS AND WAS THE GAME’S MVP. That news again; Michael Beasley broke the CBA All-Star scoring record and in some style; step back treys, coast-to-coast dunks, alley-oops. Lovely stuff. Highlights below (obviously) but I’m still not sure if this sort of Beas related activity is good or bad for the reputation of the largest basketball league in South-East Asia. Actually, who am I kidding; its fucking great.
It was his only significant pass of the game but the fourth-quarter dish gave Hu Xuefeng 2,242 career assists and ownership of the league’s all-time record. The Jiangsu Dragons, who were missing Chris Singleton with what has since turned out to be an ACL tear, lost that game, 117-94 to Shandong but the significance of Hu’s achievement still can’t be overlooked.
It was absolutely a special moment but even the circumstances behind Hu’s claiming of the record reflects how unorthodox the Jiangsu player has been over the years. The point guard, who has played for Dragons since 1999, is now also the team’s head coach and supposed to be running things from the bench. Instead, with the team badly weakened by injuries, Hu has played for most of the season and was able to come into Wednesday’s game within touching distance of the assist record he formerly owned but had since lost to Sichuan’s Lv Xiaoming.
Like its American cousin, the women’s branch of the Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA) doesn’t really get much mainstream media coverage. Games are sparely attended or rarely reported upon and the whole thing feels like it’s just a testing ground for players trying to get into the national team. This means when a WCBA story makes the front pages, it’s either because Maya Moore (who plays in China for the Shanxi Flames) has gone off for 50+ points or because something very bad happened.
Typically though, it’s for negative reasons and lo and behold, some pretty remarkable images from the WCBA ran on Sunday’s front pages. During a game between the Zhejiang Bulls, who were on the road against the Sichuan Whales (both WCBA teams share the same nickname as their CBA counterpart), the home side’s players reacted angrily to a hard foul from the Bulls. In an already bad tempered contest, the cheap shot was enough to clear the benches and blows were exchanged.
The impression of Stephon Marbury in the West tends to be that he is universally popular in China. This is true to a certain extent in Beijing and the Ducks’ point guard has been well received for trying to live like a local in the capital city. Using the metro to get around the city or attending Beijing Guoan games might be seen by some as a PR exercise but they still represent a man who is trying to be part of his local community. Washington DC native Kevin Durant has no natural links to Oklahoma City but still goes out of his way to seem invested in OKC. Pretending to care is part of life as a top level pro athlete and the simple fact that Marbury is doing that in Beijing adds legitimacy to the Ducks and the CBA as a whole.
Having made it clear he loves Beijing, the city has quickly embraced the American as one of its’ own. Marbury obviously has been feted with that statue and that cheesy musical but he has also been asked to coach at the Rising Star game at a CBA All-Star weekend, which underlines his credibility within the league’s front office itself. But just because Beijing loves him, it doesn’t mean that the rest of China feels the same way. Continue reading
Its not just the NBA that is in full swing. The Chinese Basketball Association is almost at its halfway point and with Round 16 in the books, there are plenty of big stories to break down. This time around it breaking down the biggest injury story in the league this season as well as Hamad Haddadi being one of the outside shots for regular season MVP.
The oft used quote that those who don’t learn from their history are only doomed to repeat it seems particularly apt in Xinjiang right now. The Tigers, forever looking to win their first ever CBA title, once again broke out the checkbook early on in the year to build up star-studded line-up. Liu Wei, Cao Fei, Zhou Qi, Jordan Crawford and Andray Blatche all arrived at the start of the year and yet the team is 9-4 when they were expecting to be 13-0. The reality is that in the industrial city of Urumqi, it is title or bust and their constantly anxious fan base is now once again calling for something to be done to get the team back on track. Continue reading
Another week of Chinese basketball is done. Lets talk about it.
Despite playing in their bad ass throwbacks to celebrate the anniversary of the CBA, the Guangdong Tigers managed to lose to a seemingly unstoppable Liaoning Jaguars team that moved on to 10-0 in the standings. Guangdong’s 116-112 home defeat was obviously not a good look but this is a veteran team that know they are going to the play-offs anyway and will laugh off the loss as one of those things. Indeed the dressing room, though unlikely to be filled with balloons and cake to celebrate the result, would still have been a more upbeat place than normal because of the history that had just been made on the court. Zhu Fangyu, the Tigers starting small forward scored 34 points on the night and it was enough to take him over the 10,000 point mark for his career. A special event for the player, it is also a huge landmark for the CBA itself. Zhu had long been the league’s leading scorer but his achievement against Liaoning represents another line in the sand for a player who has basically been China’s most reliable shooter for almost a decade.
With another round of games in the books, the first month of the 2014/15 Chinese Basketball Association is almost at an end. Liaoning remain top of the standings but much of the rest of the league have changed places in just seven days. All of that means another look at the key stories of the week are in order. This time around, it’s a player who could have been an NBA star, two American cult heroes in China and the trouble with CBA teams (not) doing their paperwork.
The Bayi Rockets won their first game of the season yesterday against Metta World Peace and the Sichuan Whales, 110-107. It was a victory coming against a developing Sichuan roster that has only been in the league for two seasons but even then, the Rockets needed some help from a legend. Having supposedly been retired, Wang Zhizhi made his season debut against the Whales, scoring 12 points whilst going 5-of-10 from the field. Thankfully for Rockets fans, the team has the all-important first win but some within Chinese basketball are asking if it was worth dragging one of their most beloved players on the court to do it. Continue reading