In the first half of October basketball dominated the sports landscape in China at least to many media and people in the Chinese sports industry. It felt like a basketball festival in China with FIBA and the NBA both coming to China with the CBA joining their celebrations later announcing more news about the 2018-2019 season.
This basketball-themed period had a prelude, the multiple medals won by the Chinese national basketball teams at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. The Chinese men’s national team unexpectedly won a gold medal which was very well received and liked by both the authorities and the public in China.
The first basketball organization that came onto the stage in October was FIBA. On October 3 and 4, the world governing body of basketball, FIBA, successfully hosted the inaugural FIBA World Basketball Summit in the Chinese city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province.
The event is very unique in its nature, because it is organized by the world governing body of the sport itself to promote the sport’s development around the world. There are not many similar events in the sports world, i.e. conferences organized by a sport discipline’s world governing body to provide a platform to promote their sports. A similar conference is SportAccord, which is organized by some important high-level sports governing bodies in the world, i.e. GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federations) ASOIF (Association of Summer Olympic International Federations), AIOWF (Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations), ARISF (Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations), AIMS (Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport) and Associate Members, to promote sports and sports business. Mr Patrick Baumann, the later Secretary General of FIBA, was also the President of SportAccord and GAISF.
The FIBA World Basketball Summit’s vision is “building the future of world basketball together”. They have three goals: 1. To bring together all stakeholders from the international basketball industry; 2. Succeed in creating a must-attend event for all those with key roles within the global basketball eco-system and 3. To create an annual platform to promote their events (e.g. the World Cup, NBA league), activities and interests.
The conference discussed basketball from eight angles that covered almost all the important matters around basketball: federations, branding, FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, China, leagues & clubs, media, society (basketball’s role in social development) and future (3x3 basketball).
Some of the most important stakeholders who are associated with FIBA or connected to the sport and the business were invited to attend the summit as speakers. For example, FIBA’s partners (Nike, Ganten and Molten), LA2028 ( the place for people to see the development result of basketball in 10 years from now as stated by Mr Patrick Baumann in his keynote speech), Infront Media & Entertainment (an important company in the business of basketball), Tencent (a crucial media partner of many basketball organizations in China, including FIBA), the General Administration of Sport of China, as well as both the NBA and CBA, two of the most crucial players in Chinese basketball.
The late FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said in his keynote that the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China would not be the end, but a start of a long journey. At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the first basketball game was between China and the United States, but he hoped to see that at the 2028 LA Olympic Games, the last game would be between China and the US. In a semi-serious manner, he called other sports as being “sports behind basketball” which reflected his goals to develop basketball as the world’s No. 1 sport.
The summit also organized one of the most eye-catching panels in world sport, a panel between Patrick Baumann (FIBA Secretary General), Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner) and Yao Ming (CBA Chairman). The three leaders’ panel and their mere presence together in one panel in one summit, expressed one important message among others, to drive the development of basketball in China is a common goal.
The inaugural 2018 FIBA Basketball World Summit successfully helped FIBA to promote basketball and 3x3 basketball and to market the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, while at the same time providing a social and networking platform for people from the basketball industry.
Right after the Summit, the NBA started its annual China Games. Two games between the NBA teams, Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks were played in Shanghai and Shenzhen on October 5 and 8 respectively, and attracted the attention of media, basketball industry people, fans and even some potential new fans.
This is the seventh consecutive year that the NBA has organized its China Games. Adam Silver flew to the two cities to attend the China Games press conference. The 76ers’ CEO and President both came to the Games, reportedly bringing more than 200 people in the 76ers delegation to China. It was the first NBA China Games that both the 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks had attended. Seventeen NBA partners received more exposure, while doing activation and campaigns during the Games. On the fans side, tickets to the NBA Games were as popular as usual.
On October 9, the day after the second NBA game in Shenzhen, Yao Ming and a representative Chinese men’s and women’s national basketball team visited North Korea with Chinese leaders from the General Administration of Sport of China. The Chinese team played a friendly game with the North Korea team. Basketball was proudly used as a diplomacy tool for China.
Then on October 14, there came the sad news of the passing of the Secretary General of FIBA, Patrick Baumann.
However, the world did not stop. This week, as the CBA and WCBA new seasons begin, the leagues announced new developments and changes to the league, new media partners, Youku and MIGU, and their new social media partner Weibo. WCBA announced a new strategic partner in BBMG Group. Damai sports announced ticketing partnerships with 6 more CBA teams for the new season.
It is correct to say that the strong basketball activities in China in the first half of the month is due to the fact that several important basketball events are scheduled at this time of the year, for example, the NBA China Games and the start of the CBA and WCBA leagues. But this wave of significant basketball events in China during the first half of October is an impressive demonstration of the popularity and robust trend of basketball growth in China. With the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup to take place in China, the NBA's continued focus in the market and the improvement and achievements of the domestic basketball, it seems that a basketball era is descending on us in China, at least from now, through to next year’s 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
As to the long-term development, or whether there could be a continuous and upward growth period after the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup through 2028, we hope that the respected late FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann’s proposal will come true -- to make Chinese basketball stronger and have a higher world ranking and to let professional Chinese basketball leagues develop continuously.
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick