Roughly 300 million people in China play the game of basketball. That is according to the National Basketball Association, which became the first American professional sports league to bring its competitive game play to China in 2004 and has remained committed to growth basketball in the Far East. The NBA’s commitment to China has been reinforced by the league’s latest announcement that it will feature two preseason games in China this October, including one game in Shenzhen — the first time that the NBA is hosting games in the city south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province .
The first of two preseason China-hosted games, both matching up the Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers, will take place on October 11 at the Shenzhen Universiade Center. The second game, to be held on October 14, will be hosted at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
Both preseason games are considered part of the NBA Global Games 2015. It follows a 2014-15 season that included games in Mexico, England, Germany, Turkey, Brazil and China. Additional match-ups for the 2015-16 NBA season will be announced at a later date.
“The Charlotte Hornets are excited to play in NBA Global Games China and help grow the NBA’s brand internationally, while showcasing the strength of our franchise and team to millions of Chinese basketball fans,” said Charlotte Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan.
The NBA and its teams have been wise to recognize and continue to dedicate resources to China, which is clearly the league’s largest international fanbase. In February, the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets wore specially designed Chinese New Year uniforms paying tribute to the league’s Chinese fans and their culture. The most recent announcement of two more games in China, including the first in Shenzhen, is further proof that the NBA understands just how valuable its presence in China has been and can be in the future.
“Basketball is more popular than ever, and Global Games China 2015 is part of our ongoing commitment to growing the game in the world’s most populous nation,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “These games will not only bring the excitement of NBA action directly to Chinese fans, but will also provide the league another opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of China.”
It will also provide the league more opportunities to gain favorable partnerships overseas. On July 1, 2015, a new partnership between Chinese Internet services provider Tencent and the NBA will go into effect. It is essentially a five-year extension of an existing relationship that will serve as the league’s largest international digital partnership.
The October games will be the Hornets’ first trip to China, and the Clippers’ second visit after participating games that took place in Beijing and Shanghai in 2012. Based on the NBA’s commitment to growth in China and the extreme interest in basketball overseas, it is likely not to be the teams’ last tour in the region.
Original title by Forbes: NBA Commits To Further Growth In China; Schedules Two Games In October