Its been a while since I’ve been able to write, mostly due to holidays and work commitments but in the meantime, the CBA has been bonkers. It should be stressed that there are many good things going on right now (there is no obvious favorite for the title! Young Chinese stars like Ding Yangyuhan and Wang Zhelin continue to play well!) but at the same time, when I finally found the time to start blogging, the most obvious news story was what happened last night in Jiangsu Province.
So let’s recap. The Jiangsu Tongxi Monkey Kings have been, to put it bluntly, a joke for most of their short CBA existence. Based in the city of Changzhou, the team with no squad depth has struggled to even sniff a mid-table spot and are whipping boys for most of the CBA’s big sides. For the most part, Tongxi seem content to live with this as they slowly build up their organization. But one thing that does mean a lot is their local rivalry with the Jiangsu Dragons, who are based in the far more pleasant city of Nanjing. It is on that note that we take a look at the most recent clash between the two neighbours.
Unsurprisingly, Tongxi struggled through the game. With time running out, a chippy game looked to be over when venerable Dragons point guard Hu Xuefeng was intentionally sent to the free-throw line. Hu shoots 84% from the strip, there was eight seconds on the clock and the Dragons were winning 108-102 so the game was basically over. Hu would likely make both shots and everyone could go home.
Except it wasn’t so easy. Rushing in from the expensive seats came a Tongxi official, later identified as the team vice-president, Dong Chong. Having walked onto the court, Dong had already earned himself a fine and a phone call from the CBA league office. At this point, he clearly decides to go for broke by grabbing the ball from the referee. In turn, the clearly confused official hides the ball behind his back, leaving Dong to stand there screaming at him.
Now a dead game suddenly got very interesting. The home fans are now riled up and at one point, former Cleveland Cavalier guard, Jared Cunningham (no. 6), starts to applaud as Dong continues to berate the official. This exchange continues until stadium security realize the guy who pays their cheques is on the court and shouting at referees on national television. As a result, they literally have to arrest their own boss as he tries to leave.
As the game finished, at least one bottle is thrown from the stands and the referee crew had to be led off the court by those police not already taking Dong away. The icing on the cake came when the team CEO (below) got hold of the public announcer’s microphone and angrily denounced the referees to an already rowdy home support.
The CBA is, unsurprisingly, going to come down on this like a ton of bricks. Whereas other recent expansion teams have been more competitive (most notably Sichuan, who won the CBA championship last year), Tongxi have been a disaster. Many presumed giving Jiangsu province a second CBA team was a slap in the face to the Dragons, who spent decades shooting themselves in the foot. Having squandering the talents of three of the best Chinese players in the last twenty years (all-time assist and steals leader, Hu Xuefeng; the three-time CBA MVP, Hu Weidong; and one-time MVP, Tang Zhendong), things got so bad recently that one Jiangsu player sat out an entire season to get out of his contract. Tongxi was meant to give basketball in the province a second chance at success but instead the Monkey Kings have been a disaster.
Ironically, this will be the most notable story involving Tongxi since their creation three years ago and Jiangsu basketball is now in the news again. The Dragons, now under new ownership, are still in the hunt for a play-off spot whereas their little brothers continue to give the CBA headaches.