Gold for Chinese men at gymnastics worlds
China's men's gymnastics team won gold at last week's Artistic Gymnastics World Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands, barely beating out runner-up Japan, and setting up a big showdown with their rivals at November's Asian Games. The Chinese team consisted of: Chen Yibing (rings, vault), Feng Zhe (vault, parallel bars, uneven bars), Teng Haibin (pommel horse, parallel bars, uneven bars), Yan Mingyong (pommel horse, rings), Lu Bo (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars) and Zhang Chenglong (floor, uneven bars). Click here for complete results.
The women weren't quite as successful as the men, taking third in the team competition, behind Russia and the United States. On the team were Jiang Yuyuan (vault uneven bars, beam, floor), He Kexin (uneven bars), Sui Lu (beam, floor), Huang Qiushuang (vault, uneven bars, floor), Deng Linlin (beam) and Yang Yilin (vault). Click here for complete results.
China was the top medal winner overall at the championships, with 4 gold medals, 4 silvers and 1 bronze.
World Series of Boxing's Beijing team
The new World Series of Boxing, launched by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and set to begin November 19, includes a Chinese team, the Beijing Dragons. The team is owned by the Yeland Boxing Club, a subsidiary of a real estate company called the Yeland Group. The team is coached by Wu Xiaosong, and features 13 Chinese boxers and three internationals, from Brazil, Senegal and Ghana.
The series is divided into three conferences—Asia, Americas and Europe. Beijing's home fights take place November 27, December 18, January 15, January 29, February 19, and March 12 (schedule). The post-season runs from April through a final on May 11.
The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers will open the season against each other in LA tonight (Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 p.m. LA time; October 27, 10:30 a.m. Beijing time). It's a great matchup for the Chinese market, which has plenty of fans of both teams, and is eager to see how Yao looks after a season off rehabbing after a broken foot (Houston Chronicle: Rockets look to steal show in opener against Lakers)
Two golds for China in beach volleyball championship
China dominated the Asian Volleyball Confederation Beach Volleyball Championship in Haikou last week. Zhang Xi and Xue Chen won the women's gold (http://www.asianvolleyball.org/beach/2010-10-25/333115.html), easily beating a pair from Kazakhstan. The Chinese men had two duos in the medals—Wu Penggen and Xu Linyin won the gold, and Gao Peng and Li Jian took bronze. The next competition for Asia's beach volleyball stars is the Asian Games in Guangzhou, with the early rounds starting November 15, women's finals on the 23rd, and men's finals on the 24th.
China men's gymnastics team image: News.cnnb.com
Tags: beach volleyball, boxing, Gymnastics, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
Game 1 was in Beijing, and Houston won, 91-81. Yao played 19 minutes, scored 9 points, and grabbed 4 rebounds. The Rockets also took Game 2 in Guangzhou, and Yao notched 10 points and 5 rebounds, again in 19 minutes.
Here's a look at some of the stories about Yao and the games:
Long-time Rockets writer Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle takes a quick look at the arc of Yao's career, that the 14-year-old who watched the NBA's first live broadcast in China grew up play a key role in the league's progress and popularity in China. Some interesting facts from Feigen's piece:
Between 3 and 5 percent of NBA revenue comes from China, according to David Stern.
Rockets games average more than 30 million viewers, says Rockets CEO Tad Brown.
Most seasons, about 7 of the Rockets 85 sponsors are Chinese brands, representing 5 percent of sponsorship revenue.
Sports Illustrated Yao's struggle to return to playing form after his May 2009 foot injury, and speculates about the impact that the center, reportedly on a 24-minutes-per-game plan for the coming season, can make.
CBS Sports says Yao looked as good as could be expected in his limited minutes in Beijing
The Houston Chronicle reminds us that Yao's teammates and the Rockets franchise enjoy a share of his spoils in the Chinese market. Shane Battier, Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry all have sneaker contracts with Chinese brands. (Rockets enjoy Chinese endorsement deals due to Yao)
Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA China Games, New Jersey Nets, Yao Ming
I wish I had 10 RMB for every time I heard an American say "They love Kobe in China, don't they?" It's true, but focus on Bryant and you miss the point. It's no surprise that he--as a reigning NBA champion and finals MVP, not to mention a shooting guard and a guy who does some work to promote himself in China--sells more jerseys in China than anyone else.
So what's interesting about this list? Here are a few ideas--I'd love to hear yours.
Lebron's gaining fast
Lebron made a big gain from 7th in 2007-08 to 2nd in 2008-09. The whole MVP thing couldn't have hurt, but James is also heavily promoted in China by Nike. With Shaq on his team, and possibly a Chinese part owner, he should knock off Kobe like a Gucci bag in China this season.
Do little guys really rule?
It's often said that Chinese fans are more interested in more diminutive players, ostensibly because they can more easily identify with smaller guys. This list doesn't give much support to that idea. Compare the China list to the most recent US list on NBA.com. Chris Paul, Allen Iverson and Derrick Rose all rank higher on the U.S. list. Carmelo Anthony comes in in China's top 10, while he only ranks 15th in the U.S. market. And while Shaq might blame the big-man issue on his absence from the China list, it didn't seem to hurt Dwight Howard. Could the supposed Chinese fascination with short players just be yet another misguided oversimplification of the Chinese market?
Did Yao really need a boost?
You'd think that pretty much everyone in China who wanted a Yao Ming jersey had managed to secure one before his seventh season in the league. Also, you'd think that Chinese fans who wanted a Yao jersey in the Olympic year would have opted for his Chinese national team gear--widely available at Nike stores all over the country--and passed on the Rockets jersey. Apparently, you'd be wrong. Yao moved from number 10 to number 6 on the list.
East and West: Market matters
Ten of the 15 top-selling jerseys in the United States belong to Eastern Conference players. In China, only seven come from the East. Tony Parker, Steve Nash and Carmelo Anthony--all higher on the China jersey sales list than the U.S. one--get more TV time in China since Houston Rockets games, understandably, feature heavily in the schedule here, which means that Western Conference teams tend to get more exposure in China.
There were a lot of complaints last year when Yi Jianlian threatened to get a starting spot on the Eastern All-Star team--one that he hadn't earned with his play, but almost got because Chinese fans voted for him anyway. Apparently, that nationalist loyalty stops at actually sporting the jersey of a guy who had a pretty weak season. Again, watch out for broad generalizations about Chinese fans. It's one thing to go online and click on a guy's name; another thing entirely to hand over all that cash and then head to the courts in the jersey of a guy who averages single digits.
Lebron James/Carmelo Anthony image: Hi.baidu.com
Tags: Houston Rockets, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, NBA, Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian
When the sports float paraded past, China's biggest sports star was conspicuously missing. Waving bouquets of yellow and red flowers atop a replica of Beijing's Olympic cauldron were Liu Xiang (China's first gold medalist in track and field), Li Ning (gymnast and triple gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics) and Xu Haifeng (pistol shooter and China's first ever gold medalist). Several other athletes—gymnasts, divers, cyclists, basketball player Wang Zhizhi—also joined in the show. But where was China's one true international sports star, Yao Ming?
The Houston Rockets center is rehabbing a foot fracture and will sit out the 2009-2010 NBA season. He skipped the team's media day, but was spotted on crutches at the Toyota Center. He went under the knife in July, to repair an injury that got the best of him during the playoffs last spring.
It's entirely possible that Yao's doctors advised against him making the trip. Sure, he could be propped up on a parade float for an hour, but he'd also probably have to make a dozen other appearances at state dinners and galas during Golden Week. And if Yao can't stand on his own two feet for more than a few minutes right now, then forget about the parade. China's most recognized face worldwide, sitting in an easy chair on the big day? Not exactly the look the country was going for on a day that tanks rolled past the Forbidden City and jet fighters flew overhead.
But here's another possible reason that's interesting to think about: The big man was getting out of everyone's way. Yao Ming was getting out of the way of Liu Xiang, the 110-meter hurdler who shattered Chinese stereotypes with his Olympic gold medal in 2004, and just launched a legit comeback from last year's very public and painful downfall. Yao Ming was getting out of the way of Li Ning, China's "prince of gymnastics" and the CEO of the leading Chinese sportswear brand (named, what else, Li Ning), which is scrambling to compete with Nike and Adidas for its share of the growing domestic sports apparel market. Yao Ming was getting out of the way of Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin and the rest of the Communist Party leadership, who were lauded yesterday for overseeing China's recent economic rise. Yao—one of the most famous people in the world, who would certainly have appeared in most Western media reports of the parade—was getting out of the way of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, the late leaders whose legacies were unquestioningly celebrated, at least in official events and reports.
Yes, it's possible that Yao was getting out of the way in Beijing, just as he got out of the way in Houston last week, when the guys who will actually play for Houston this year answered the questions and mugged for the cameras. But then again, it's possible he really can't let go of those crutches yet and appearing on national TV all banged up is just as bad for Brand Yao as for Brand China.
Liu Xiang, Li Ning parade image: Sports.scol.com.cn
Tags: Houston Rockets, Li Ning, Liu Xiang, NBA, sports marketing, Xu Haifeng, Yao Ming
Last year, draft day eve saw a trade that moved Guangdong native Yi Jianlian from the Milwaukee Bucks to the New Jersey Nets. A year later, the shine has dulled on Yi's move to a bigger market with a bigger Chinese-American population and a hope of landing Lebron James in 2010. The power forward played showed some consistent strong play in January before getting injured and then never returning to form the rest of the season. He averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. Yi has three years left on a $15.6 million contract with the Nets.
While Yi might not have earned his $3 million on the court for the Nets last year, a recent piece in the New York Daily News indicates that the team likes his marketability in China. Yi is China's third most influential celebrity, according to Forbes' annual ranking of Chinese celebrities. The Daily News piece says that Nets CEO Brett Yormark is currently in China meeting with executives from 33 different companies with the goal of signing four or five new deals.
Yao Ming, by far China's biggest sports star, has been talked about for a move to Cleveland ever since news broke of a group led by Chinese businessman Huang Jianhua, aka Kenneth Huang, working on a deal to buy a 15 percent stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers. So far, it amounts to little more than a Chinese fan's fantasy of bringing Yao together with 2009 NBA MVP Lebron James. Yao's got two years left on his contract, with the freedom to opt out on the last year, in which he would make $17 million if he chose to stick around. He's been a Rocket for all of his seven-year career and is the face of the franchise, both for fans and for opposing teams--beating the Rockets means stopping Yao (if, of course, he's healthy).
Yao added a little fuel to the rumors earlier this week with his vague talk in an interview with Shanghai television station. "It is still an unknown," was his response to questions about a possible move to Cleveland.
Chinese investors buying stake in Cavs
Yi, Jay-Z and Lebron?
Lebron, Yao image: Blogcn.com
Tags: basketball, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Huang Jianhua, Kenneth Huang, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian
Big fines in CBA playoff brawl
A total of 330,000 yuan ($48,290 USD) in fines were dished out to five players and two teams for a fight during a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) playoff game last week. The Guangdong Tigers routed Shandong Gold, 126-79, in Game 3 of the first-round game. The CBA's been a little rowdy this year, and Chinese basketball officials blame it on new rules allowing for more physical play.
The fines, which were accompanied by short suspensions (two and three games for Guangdong players), don't seem to have hurt the Tigers, who went on to win their first second-round game over Dongguan, moving Yi Jianlian's former team one step closer to its fifth championship. The Guangdong roster includes NBA veteran Smush Parker and four members of China's 2008 Olympic team.
Rockets surging, Yao aching
The oft-injured Yao Ming gave Houston Rockets fans a scare when he sat out a game last week with a sore right foot. But 42-year-old center Dikembe Mutombo did exactly what he was brought in for, giving Yao a break and posting 10 points, 15 boards and four blocks last Friday in a win over Golden State. Yao returned to the lineup after tests showed his pain was just due to a bruise, and paced the Rockets with 22 points in a win over the Charlotte Hornets in their final home game. The Rockets lead the Southwest Division and are neck-and-neck with the San Antonio Spurs for third in the West.
NBA TV China
The NBA announced plans for two reality shows in China. The first will be a cheerleading competition airing on CCTV-5 (China's national sports channel) starting May 9. Brewing company Tsing Tsao is the NBA's partner for the show, in which the cheerleaders compete for a trip to train with an NBA cheering team. The second show, sponsored by China Mengniu Dairy, will be a basketball competition broadcast on Shandong Satellite TV. Airing on Fridays starting May 22, NBA Mengniu Basketball Disciple will feature young hoop dreamers competing for a shot at the NBA D-League.
Han gets assist in Sol win
Chinese striker Han Duan notched her first assist for the Los Angeles of the new Women's Professional Soccer league. The Sol beat Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey) to improve to 2-0. Han also had a shot on goal but came up short. The Sol play again on Sunday, April 19, against FC Gold Pride.
Doping swimmers suspended
The Chinese Swimming Association announced it would suspended five junior swimmers for two years for testing positive for anabolic steroids last June. The suspensions of Qu Jing, Liu Bingyao, Zuo Ziqiao, Fu Bo and Hu Shaozhi are retroactively effective to the date of the tests, meaning that they are already nearly halfway through their suspensions and will return with plenty of time left to train for the 2012 Olympics. Why did it take so long to issue the suspensions? That old excuse, "the Olympics." Ouyang Kunpeng, once China's top backstroker, was banned for life by the Chinese Swimming Association just weeks before the 2008 Olympics, after a positive anabolic steroids test.
Liang plays his way into fourth major
Liang Wenchong, China's most accomplished golfer to date, qualified for the British Open at a qualifying event in Singapore. Liang finished second in the qualifying tournament to earn a spot at the Open in July. Liang played in the British Open last year--it was his third Major and the first one in which he made the cut. He also played in last year's Masters and the 2007 PGA Championship (Liang makes British Open cut).
Women fail to qualify for China Open
Four women took part in qualifying competitions for the European Tour-sanctioned Volvo China Open, but none were able to qualify. Among the women looking to qualify were Wang Chun (China.org), who qualified for the Japan LPGA Tour in 2007, and Ye Zhaoying, once the world's top female badminton player (Reuters).
Tags: basketball, football, golf, Han Duan, Houston Rockets, Liang Wenchong, NBA, Ouyang Kunpeng, soccer, swimming, Tsingtsao, Yao Ming
But it's not just about Yao and the Rockets. There are almost as many Kobe Bryant fans in China as there are Yao fans, so people will be tuning in to see what the mvp candidate does, too.
Off the roster is Lakers guard Sun Yue, one of three Chinese players in the NBA this season. Sun missed the start of the season due to mononucleosis and played in 10 games, averaging about half a point. He has recently been reassigned to the Lakers' developmental team.
The Lakers are 2-0 against the Rockets this season.
While we're on the topic of the NBA, this Bloomberg piece is an interesting read: NBA may benefit as China boosts sports arena plans.
Yao and Kobe image: gzxw.com
Tags: basketball, Houston Rockets, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Sun Yue, Yao Ming
"I don't know how to play basketball now," said Yao, in this Houston Chronicle report. "I forget what is my game."
Yao, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady and Shane Battier were finally all healthy and on the court together, but the Rockets couldn't hold on to a late lead over the 76ers. Yao sounded especially frustrated after the game, saying: "Coach said that we have to learn from this game. Why do we keep learning this game? Learning from these games means we lost again, and this happened again, and this happened months ago and two months ago. And now it is the end of January, and we are still learning. When is the end?"
Houston faces the Golden State Warriors Saturday at home.
Related: Rockets stall late in 95-93 loss to Sixers (Houston Chronicle)
Tags: basketball, Houston Rockets, NBA, Yao Ming