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Post by Jon Pastuszek 

August 9, 2014

1 Comment

What the heck happened to NiuBBall: An update


Among other things that happened while NiuBBall went AWOL… The China Olympic National Team lost to Italy… The latter of whom fielded only three players in overtime due to some “patriotic” home officiating that fouled out the majority of their roster.

The Lochness Monster. Area-51. Amelia Earhart. Darko Milicic. NiuBBall.

Trust us, we didn’t plan to get on the list of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries; it just sort of happened. Yet after a little less than a year of crickets (the Chinese ones in the little cages, to be exact), the search parties have come up largely empty in their attempt to get to the bottom of NiuBBall’s silent keyboards.

Until now.

Actually, the reason is really simple: I now have a legitimate, singular full-time job at Li-Ning, working on international basketball projects in the company’s sports marketing department. I’ve been working at there since July 2013, just a little before when NiuBBall went off the map. Attentive China hoops watchers are now starting to connect the dots. You see, Li-Ning sponsors the Chinese Basketball Association, as well as a few NBA guys. Before, covering “Basketball with Chinese Characteristics” was an interesting and entertaining topic to share with everyone. Now it has become a topic in which I am paid to represent. So posts like this one… Yeah, not so much anymore.

And trust me, as bummed out as all eleven of my readers are after learning of this news, nobody is more bummed out than yours truly. It was an amazing experience to provide the current, informed and accurate information English language coverage of Chinese hoops that the Internet lacked before. Maybe one day, I’ll have the chance to provide it again. Some people who had already figured out NiuBBall’s big move have suggested that the site should remain active in providing links and basic information about the world of Chinese hoops. While the idea isn’t terrible in its own right, NiuBBall’s philosophy is all-in, or all-out.

And unfortunately, we’re all-out for now.

That’s not to say you’re completely out of luck if you’re still lusting for China hoops. Because one of the positive thing that there is a real community of China English-language basketball blogs and websites out there now.

NiuBBall contributor Andrew Crawford is still doing his thing over at Shark Fin Hoops. Mark Dreyer at China Sports Insider does a great job of covering not only basketball, but the entire China sports scene. Nick Bedard over at Basketball Buddha does a great job not only covering the CBA, but all of Asia. Asia-Basket is still cool for stats and scores and news. Karan Madhok covers India Basketball at Hoopistani, which is now more relevant than ever after beating China in the FIBA Asia Cup, exploding the brains of all the people who watched the game live, and setting China basketball to a new low. (Which by the way was pretty hard to do after the same China Olympic Team lost a few weeks earlier to a three-man Italy team in a warm-up game. The state of China basketball, everyone!)

So, before I get fired and/or find myself locked in the basement of some building on Guangqumen Inner Street behind the CBA office, I’ll stop here. The site will still remain online. I will still answer my emails, I’ll still be on the streets hitting up jianbing… and I will still be at a pretty good pick-up game somewhere in Beijing. Peace, ya’ll.


Post by Kenya Brown 

October 18, 2013


Marbury’s new extension shows his commitment to basketball’s development in China


Stephon Marbury will keep playing in the CBA for at laest another three years.

The recent announcement of Stephon Marbury’s three-year contract with the Beijing Ducks, which came prior to the team’s exhibition game against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, really came as no surprise to anyone who has followed the league over the last four years. It has been the New York native’s ambition to finish his career in China.

In fact, if anyone has followed Marbury’s career since he joined the capital team in the 2011-12 season this is a just a sign of not only his commitment to the Ducks, but also a very strong commitment to the development of the game in China.

Continue reading…


Post by Kenya Brown 

October 7, 2013


Sichuan Blue Whales win promotion to CBA, round out new foreign lineup

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The CBA’s newest expansion team, the Sichuan Whales, will enter their inagural season with three foreign players, Hamed Haddadi, Herve Lamizana and Johnny Flynn, as well as a foreign head coach, J.T. Prada.

Southwestern China has been starving for some top level basketball for a long time. They won’t have to wait any longer.

Last month, the CBA officially announced the promotion of the Sichuan Jinqiang Blue Whales to the Chinese Basketball Association, and will become the 18th team in the league.

The decision, which was officially announced on September 29th, ends what had been a long-time rumored end-result to the league’s expansion plans. Dating as far back as summer 2012, the CBA had been evaluation expansion plans with the idea of promoting a team from the second-tier professional league, the National Basketball League. For various reasons, those plans were put on hold and the once-in-a-few year opportunity for teams to rise up to the top professional level was carried over to 2013. Even then, it wouldn’t be until several months after the conclusion of the NBL season for a final decision to be announced.

Continue reading…


Post by Kenya Brown 

October 4, 2013


Zhejiang fills out import roster, signs Jerel McNeal


Jerel McNeal, who two seasons in the D-League in between two 10-days in the NBA and various stints in Europe, will play with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls this season.

The Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls have completed their foreign import signings for the upcoming 2013/14 CBA season by signing former Utah Jazz guard Jerel McNeal.

The deal comes on the heels of the team signing power forward Ivan Johnson earlier in September.

McNeal is remembered for his time at Marquette University where he was named the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year during the 2006/07 college basketball season. He was also to the Big East’s All-First Team and the Associated Press’ All-American second team in the 2008/09 season.

The Chicago, Illinois native went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft and spent that time trying out for various teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sacramento Kings and the Chicago Bulls. He would then bounce between teams in the NBA Developmental League and Europe, playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Bakersfield Jam, Dexia Mons-Hainaut in Belgium and Sutor Basket Montegranaro in Italy.

McNeal would finally get his shot in the NBA with the New Orleans Hornets in 2011, signing a 10-day contract. He then went on to sign with the Utah Jazz in March 2013.

He was waived by the Western Conference side on September 25, 2013.

The 26-year-old guard is a scorer as he averaged 20.6 points a game during his time with the Vipers in the NBA D-League, and should be a good replacement for former Golden Bull Quincy Douby. However, fans of the team should not count on seeing another 75-point game in the upcoming season, which is the all-time single game record Douby set last season.


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

October 2, 2013


Earthquake: Beijing Olympians owner, Milton Lee, dies unexpectedly; Sun Yue signs with Beijing Ducks


Winston Lee, owner of the Beijing Olympians, the team who developed Sun Yue, died suddenly of a heart attack on September 18th.

From the onset of the Beijing Olympians establishment, the team and its eccentric owner, Winston Lee, always set out to do things differently.

Now, after Lee’s sudden passing and the departure of star player Sun Yue, the Olympians might not be able to do anything at all.

On September 26th, Chinese media reported that Lee, the longtime owner of the Olympians, had died of a sudden heart attack in Beijing. It was later discovered that Lee had actually passed on the 18th, but the news had been withheld from the public for a week. Lee was 55 years-old.

Lee’s unfortunate and sad death coincides with another ground-shaking piece of news out of the Olympians camp: National Team guard/forward, Sun Yue, is signing with the Beijing Ducks. According to Chinese media, the deal is worth CNY 4 million per year over two years. In addition, three other Olympian players, Zhang Songtao, Li Wei and Huang Haibei, will join the Ducks for the upcoming season as well.

Continue reading…


Post by James Howden 

September 25, 2013


The Lithuanians Are Coming! The Lithuanians Are Coming!

Followers of this site are well aware that, after the American Del Harris left the helm of the Chinese Men’s National Team, Jonas Kazlauskas took over. Kazlauskas is a legend in the tiny Baltic nation of Lithuania, that tiny former ward of the Soviet Union that is geo-politically insignificant but fascinating in one respect. Though a struggling nation of fewer than three million, sending migrant labourers all over Europe, Lithuania is a hoops hotbed. (Some credit Arvydas Sabonis. Do you remember him?) It has one resource that a world powerhouse like China can envy from afar: Lithuania exports astounding levels and amounts of basketball talent.


“The Other Dream Team”, as a 2012 documentary film calls them. The great Sabonis is the giant wearing shades; the wonderfully named and gamed Sarunas Marciulionis is fourth from the right.

Perhaps you remember the Lithuania national side playing in the 1992 Olympics. Four of their stars,  including the magnificent Arvydas Sabonis, had played for the Soviet Union when they won gold in ’88 in  Seoul, the last time the Americans were content to send a college all-star team. The U.S.A. “Dream Team” of  NBA pros dominated in ’92 in Barcelona, winning their preliminary games by an average of over 40 points.  The Dreamers were a huge story (and marketing campaign), but even occasional basketball fans fell in love  with Lithuania that summer. The team had talent, but no money from home. Their warmups were outrageous  tie-dyed duds designed by an American artist; legendary stoner band the Grateful Dead were said to have  donated, too. They looked like charity cases or hipsters lost in time, but “the other Dream Team” played with  flair and real joy. The Yanks drilled them by 51  in the semifinal, but their real Olympic moment followed: in  the bronze medal game, Lithuania defeated the  “Unified Team”, the leftovers of their former Soviet masters,  and all was right in Lietuva for a golden time.

Now, you may know about Kazlauskas, Sabonis, the Houston Rockets Donatas Motiejunas, or any number of  other Lithuanian ballers past or present. Ignas Vycas isn’t somebody you should know, particularly. He’s not  a pro-level talent, but he is young and Lithuanian and left-handed, living in Dalian, and a major upgrade  in my middle-aged hoops adventures. He’s too young for the job, but he’s my new best basketball friend.

Continue reading…


Post by James Hsu 

September 23, 2013


American dreams – Non-mainstream Chinese players crossing over to the NBA

Yi and Yao


He lives in Beijing, reads Chinese, is a self-described basketball degenerate who has watched his fair share of CBA games and really wants to write about Chinese basketball. And as we know better than almost anyone else, anybody who willingly watches CBA games is definitely a basketball degenerate.

Yeah, James Hsu is a perfect fit for NiuBBall.

From here on out, James will be writing about really anything that comes to mind about Chinese hoops. Based on our lengthy email conversations, NiuBBall readers will like that stuff that comes to his mind. His first piece delves into the deep and dusty part of the China basketball library: Former players, some more obscure than others, who have tried their shot at the NBA. Here’s hoping that book will be updated with a new player by 2020.


“Who got next?”

Kobe Bryant. LeBron James.

Yao Ming. Yi Jianlian. Jeremy Lin.

These are household names in professional basketball. My mother knows these names. Their faces are all over TV and the news. The other day, I found a blog that tracks what Yao Ming is doing right now, after his basketball career has ended! That’s an insane amount of coverage.

But what about the unsung heroes? The other Chinese players that crossed over, or attempted to cross over to the NBA? What are their stories?

There’s a whole world out there of Chinese basketball players hustling, scrapping, trying to face the best competition the world has to offer. In many cases, the NBA has validated them and given them a shot. There are many reasons why some players make it and others don’t.

I’ve narrowed my focus to players from the past 15 years. Not to say that there weren’t players that paved the way in the 90’s – I simply wanted to focus on the most recent era.

Here are their stories.

Continue reading…


Post by Kenya Brown 

September 22, 2013


Ivan Johnson returns to China, signs with Zhejiang Chouzhou

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two

After spending the last two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Ivan Johnson is returning to the CBA with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls.

The Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls have signed power forward Ivan Johnson to one of their two foreign import spots for the upcoming 2013-14 Chinese Basketball Association season.

The 29-year-old makes his return to the Chinese league after a short stint with the Qingdao Doublestar Eagles in 2011. After playing six games for the Eagles, Johnson signed a contract with the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks. Afterwards, he spent two seasons with the Southeast Division side. The highlight of his time with the Hawks was being named as the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April, having averaged 10.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.45 steals.

The much-traveled Texas native has played in the NBA D-League, Puerto Rico and South Korea.

While Johnson is a highly-skilled player who will add much needed power to the Bulls front court this season, he is also prone to disciplinary problems that could hurt the team should they make a run in the playoffs.

Johnson received a lifetime ban and was fined close to $4,500 by the Korean Basketball League for raising his middle finger at a referee after his Jeonju KCC Egis team lost to Ulsan Mobis Phoebis in the final game of the championship series in April 2010. In April 2012, the Hawks was sent home and fined an unspecified amount of money for what the team called conduct detrimental to the team. A month later the NBA fined him $25,000 for giving the finger to a Boston Celtics fan after the Hawks’ elimination from the playoffs.

If Johnson can keep his attitude in check and provide the Bulls with good play on the offensive and defensive ends of the court, they could make a strong run in the playoffs.


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

September 22, 2013

1 Comment

Pooh Jeter leads Ukraine to first ever 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup berth


After beating Italy on Friday, Pooh Jeter and whatever that thing is are excited about Ukraine’s first ever qualification into the FIBA Basketball World Cup. (Photo: EuroBasket.org).


After helping to lead the Shandong Gold Lions to their first ever CBA Finals appearance in club history last season, point guard Pooh Jeter has clearly proved himself as one of the top point guards on both the Chinese and overseas professional stage.

Now, on the heels of leading Ukraine to their best finish ever at the 2013 EuroBasket, he’ll have a chance to further prove himself on the biggest international stage of all: The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

In a stunning two week run, Ukraine – picked by many towards the bottom of the 24-team field – ensured themselves of a top-six finish and an accompanying automatic qualifier spot in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (formerly called the FIBA World Championship), defeating Italy 66-58 on Friday.

It will be Ukraine’s first time ever participating in a FIBA World Championship/World Cup.

Continue reading…


Post by Kenya Brown 

September 21, 2013


Yi Puts Return To NBA On Hold After Signing 2-Year Deal With Guangdong


Yi Jianlian, who was rumored to be looking at return to the NBA, will stay in China for at least the next two seasons.

Guangdong Southern Tigers forward, Yi Jianlian, has signed a two-year contract extension with the reigning Chinese Basketball Association champions, according to a statement by the team on Friday.

The new deal will put any plans the 26-year-old has on returning to the National Basketball Association on hold.

Coming off a 2012-2013 CBA season in which former sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft averaged 24.6 points and 10.5 rebounds en route to earning MVP honors in the regular season, the finals and the All-Star Game, it was predicted that he would have attempted to make a move back to the United States ahead of the 2013-2014 NBA season.  Now, that has been put on hold as Yi looks to help the Southern Tigers become the most decorated team in the CBA’s history as they seek to win a record-breaking ninth title.

The Tigers currently hold eight CBA titles, which ties them with the Bayi Rockets.

There were no specifics of deal mentioned, but the team said there is no NBA opt-out clause.

The 6-11 center/forward had an up-and-down summer as the Chinese men’s national team failed to defend their title at the FIBA Asia Basketball Championship, finishing in fifth place. However, he guided the Guangdong provincial team to the gold medal at the recently concluded 12th China National Games in Liaoning Province.


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

September 21, 2013


Working Weekend Links


We feel the same way about working on a Sunday, sister.

Only in China is a vacation not really a vacation. Case in point: The preposterous and unholy government-mandated holiday schedule for Mid-Autumn Festival, which officially started on Thursday. After getting two days off from work, the vast majority of China’s workforce will go into their job tomorrow on Sunday, work until Friday, rest on Saturday, work again on Sunday and go into work on the following Monday before getting seven straight days off from October 1st to the 8th. But even then, working weekends doesn’t end as everyone has to go back to work on Saturday 12th.

At NiuBBall, we are vehemently against mandatory working weekend, because weekends are for weekends; not for working. But to stand in solidarity with our working brothers and sisters, we’re dedicating this weeks’ batch of links to everyone whose goint into the office tomorrow… and the following Sunday… and the Saturday two weeks after.

(And if you want to throw eggs at the people who are responsible for making this mess of a holiday schedule, please look up the address this guys‘ house… you know, if you’re into throwing eggs at people’s houses.)

Continue reading…


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

September 21, 2013


NiuBBall is Alive!


While we shake off the 84 days of accumulated cobwebs, here’s a something that everyone can immediately get down to: A highlight video of 37 year-old Jason Williams crossing up straight-legged Chinese defenders and doing old-school elbow passes while he was here on a legends tour this past summer. Enjoy.


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

June 29, 2013


Friday Night Chuanr


Nighttime links served up proper with a hearty helping of lamb on a stick. The beer is on you, though.


  • The FIBA World U-19 Championship is underway in Prague, Czech Republic. The Chinese, headlined by Zhou Qi and Gao Shang, two guys NiuBBall readers should be familiar with, are participating. Rafael Uehara has a fantastic preview over at The Basketball Post, for those interested.
  • According to Chinese reports, the Beijing Ducks have officially re-signed Randolph Morris for another season. If you haven’t already, check out my reaction on One World Sports.


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

June 27, 2013


Two words sum up the newest trailer for Chinese basketball movie, “Amazing:” Holy. Shnikes.

Make sure you’re sitting down comfortably and that there are no breakables around your computer. OK? Now click and watch.


Where to begin? After bringing my pulse rate down, the premise appears simple enough: Take some of of the things Chinese males like (video games, basketball, NBA stars, CBA stars, virtual reality, alternate universes, women, other cool stuff), put them all onto the big screen and you have “Amazing,” a sci-fi/action/fantasy/basketball movie due out in China in late 2013.

According to the LA Times, the 3-D movie is being backed by the NBA, features several Chinese and American current and former basketball superstars, and cost around U.S. $10 million to make. The plot goes something like this:

“Amazing” centers on a video game company boss, Frank (Eric Mabius of TV’s “Ugly Betty”), who is eager to rush his firm’s new thought-controlled basketball game to market, despite the objections of the project leader Bingshan (popular Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming), who warns that a bug in the system could escape the computer and infect players’ brains.

Along the way, Anthony shows up to coach an after-school program in China and speaks Shanghainese. Pippen materializes at the bedside of his No. 1 Chinese fan, and wakes him from a coma by massaging his legs. Howard appears in a light blue spandex superhero get-up with a cape and tries to use chopsticks.

So other cool stuff includes male leg massages and what is bound to be some terrible Shanhainese. Though ‘Melo gets major props for trying. Hey, I’m with it either way. Other cool stuff also apparently includes weird sexual connotations from D-12:

“Think about the basketball as being a girl,” Howard tells Bingshan in one memorable line of dialogue during a one-on-one pickup game. “You’ve got to hold her, caress her, kiss her, and when you do that, she’ll make you happy.”

There’s also a “love triangle” involved, too. No word whether an actual basketball is one of the three sides involved in that triangle.

The LA Times is also reporting that the movie’s release will coincide with China’s National Day holidays in early October, which conveniently enough will also be around the same time the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors come to Beijing and Shanghai for the 2013 China Games.

We have no idea what to expect with this; we just know we will be seeing this. This trailer is so epic, it’d be a travesty not to. Even if we remained totally bummed out they didn’t call Mengke Bateer, who has a better acting resume than any of the pro players involved in this… combined.

(H/T @Trey Kirby and The Basketball Jones)


Post by Jon Pastuszek 

June 26, 2013

1 Comment

NiuBBall Classics: Shanghai Sharks vs. Bayi Rockets, November 2001


If Forrest Gump was Chinese and living in 2013, he’d probably say something like this: Life is kind of like flipping around Chinese television at 3am… You never know what you’re going to get.

So when we came across 重温经曲振兴大球, a late-night program on CCTV-5 that shows classic games from Chinese sports history, we stopped flipping. (Don’t worry, it was on a weekend.) The game? A throwback of throwbacks — the Yao Ming-led Shanghai Sharks vs. the Wang Zhizhi juggernaut Bayi Rockets from 2001. We were so pumped, we decided to live blog it. Enjoy.


We’re immediately greeted by a really crappy intro vid that is quickly followed up by a deep-voiced voice over whose Chinese pronunciation is so perfectly crystal clear my television screen is turning see-through. This guy will be called Brother Voice Over from now on.

As Brother Voice Over informs us, when Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi first met on a basketball court in 1997, it was perhaps in the most Chinese way possible: At the National Games. Yao, playing in his first senior level competition for his hometown Shanghai squad, scored 13 points, while Wang had 19 for the People’s Liberation Army, who won the game.

Three years later in 2000, Yao had turned into a dominant force in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Sharks, leading his squad all the way to the league finals for the first time in club history. But in his way was the familiar Army team, the Bayi Rockets, and their smooth shooting center, Wang. Yao and the Sharks would lose handily to the Rockets, who were still in the midst of a dominant run of championships.

But on November 18, 2001, Yao would have his chance for revenge as his Sharks travelled to Ningbo, Zhejiang to play the Rockets in the CBA season opener. And that’s where we pick up the action.

Continue reading…


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