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

October 18, 2013

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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.

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

October 7, 2013

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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.

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Zhejiang fills out import roster, signs Jerel McNeal

October 4, 2013

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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.

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

October 2, 2013

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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.

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

September 23, 2013

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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.

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“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.

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Ivan Johnson returns to China, signs with Zhejiang Chouzhou

September 22, 2013

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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.

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

September 22, 2013

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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.

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

June 26, 2013

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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.

Pre-Game:

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.

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Tracy McGrady doesn’t know who Wang Zhelin is, doesn’t think there’s anybody in CBA good enough to play in NBA

June 17, 2013

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Despite being the consensus top young player in the CBA, Tracy McGrady has no idea who Wang Zhelin is.

There’s a lot of great story lines from this year’s NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, but there’s one that’s most relevant to NiuBBall and to Chinese basketball in general:

Tracy McGrady is one win away from an NBA championship.

OK well there’s actually three: Besides T-Mac, Miami’s Chris Anderson (Jiangsu Dragons, 2001) and San Antonio’s Patty Mills (Xinjiang Flying Tigers, 2012) both have played in China as well.

But it’s Mai Di who has the cult following in China and whose mere hand wave causes grown men to cry. And it’s McGrady who to go through what was arguably the most unique — and that’s putting it politically correct — experience in China foreign player history. Yet T-Mac, staying classy as always, had nothing but good things to say when asked by American media during these Finals.

My experience in China was great,” McGrady said in an interview with Alex Kennedy at HoopsWorld. “I had a lot of fun over there. Chinese fans are unbelievable and they made me feel like a rock star. Every arena I showed up to was [sold out], and thousands of people were waiting just for my bus to pull up. The airport was just flooded with people.”

Who he actually he played against while in those arenas? Not so memorable, according to a transcript published by Chinese media outlet, NetEase. Prior to Game 2 of the Finals, a journalist interviewed McGrady, leading off with the question that every Chinese NBA fan wants to know: Is there anybody in China who has a shot to play in The League one day? [...]

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Lost and Found: Shanghai Sharks recover misplaced championship trophy

June 11, 2013

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Shanghai does not do logical, particularly its basketball team, the Sharks.  So it will be no surprise then to learn that the Sharks, the hometown team of one of China’s most iconic athletes, Yao Ming, recently lost their 2002 CBA championship trophy and its accompanying net, which was cut down after the decisive game four of the series against the Bayi Rockets.

The discovery was only made a couple of weeks ago as the Sharks’ front office started to move parts of its administration team to a new location. After not finding the trophy anywhere in their office, the team quickly established theft as the most likely cause. Yao, who lead the team to the team’s first and only championship that year, was said to be upset about the disappearance.

However, the panic soon turned out to be a false alarm. The trophy and the net were eventually found and soon afterwards, Larry Zhang, the Sharks’ amiable chief press officer posted a photo of the rediscovered trophy and the net on his Weibo account. Turns out, however, that the trophy and net wasn’t stolen — instead, it was sitting in some random room elsewhere in the city for the last four years.

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Wang Xiaonan: Gerald Green’s delusional disorder

June 4, 2013

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Living in Beijing, two things consistently warm our hearts: Buy one, get the other half off McFlurry’s at McDonald’s and when we get emails from people who want to write for NiuBBall. We’re really not that tough to please.

The latter is how we got in touch with Wang Xiaonan, our website’s newest contributor. Xiaonan is way more legit than we’ll ever be: During the NBA season, he works in the States as Sohu’s beat writer for the 76ers and the Knicks. Beyond that, he also writes more fluently in English, which is his second language, than we do. He’s a sharp guy, to say the least.

To start off his NiuBBall career, Xiaonan gives us a piece on Gerald Green, who had a cup of coffee in China two years ago before eventually finding his way back to the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. As he writes, Once a feel good story of redemption, Green looks to have fallend back into his old ways…

The NBA Playoffs is entering its climax. LeBron is still insanely great; Paul George is still radiating charms; Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are still doing what they are doing even though I still have no idea exactly what that is.

Instead, it is someone on the bench who got engrossed in deep thought — Gerald Green. Earlier this season, I talked with him earlier after a game at the Wells Fargo Center, one of a multitude of games where he logged zero minutes.

Green, of course, spent some time in the CBA two seasons ago. I asked him about his experience and whether or not he will go back to China again when his NBA career ends; all these cliches you can imagine for a NBA player who has ties with China. His response to my dummy cliches were quite telling about his disposition, which I postulated as utterly delusional.

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Shanghai Sharks announce Wang Qun has head coach; re-sign Max Zhang

May 16, 2013

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Things are going to be a lot different in Shanghai next season.

Last Friday, the Sharks held a press conference to announce a combination of decisions that will have a huge impact on the club’s short-term and long-term direction: the appointment of Wang Qun as head coach, and the re-signing of “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu.

Wang, who has had a long history with the Sharks and owner Yao Ming, will become the first official Chinese head coach since Yao took control over the club in 2009. He had been serving in an interim role after American Dan Pannagio was fired mid-season last year.

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Boss Wang to sell Shanxi Zhongyu; team to move to Beijing

April 30, 2013

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With his eccentric behavior, can’t miss quotes and and in-game diagramming of plays, Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons owner, Wang Xingquan, better known to many as “Boss Wang,” has been one of the most newsworthy and entertaining figures in the Chinese Basketball Association over the last eight years.

Count us among the many who will miss writing about all of it.

Confirming the longtime rumors that had been swirling about for the last several months, the Brave Dragons will be sold to a Beijing-based investment group, who upon completion of the transaction will move the club to China’s capital city for the 2013-14 season. According to Sina, Beijing Enterprises Group Co. Ltd. has reached an agreement to pay CNY 120 billion (US $194.5 million) CNY 120 million ($19.4 million), a price which includes the rights to all of the club’s senior and second team players, including imports Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines.

The move marks Beijing Enterprises first foray into professional basketball. [...]

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Zhang Zhaoxu… CBA’s highest paid Chinese player?

April 22, 2013

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How many Subway footlongs could 8 million RMB buy? Depends on if you’re eating the Sub of the Day, but the answer is a lot.

Is “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu on his way to becoming Chinese basketball’s first eight million RMB man?

Could be, according to several recent reports. The Shanghai Sharks 7’3 center is reportedly being offered big money from both the Beijing Ducks and the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

Last Thursday, Sina Sports, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Ducks are poised to offer a multi-year deal worth CNY 5 million anually (US $808,767) plus a Beijing hukou, while the Tigers will go as high as 8 million ($1,294,027) to get Zhang’s signature.

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In Need Of Help For Playoff Push, San Antonio Spurs Sign Tracy McGrady

April 18, 2013

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8SLPM3A50ACR0005The San Antonio Spurs are hurting as they prepare for the NBA Playoffs which start on April 20, so they’ve decided to sign a player whose hurt them in the past: Tracy McGrady.

As announced yesterday, the 15-year NBA veteran, who played this season in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Qingdao Eagles, has signed a deal for the rest of the season, including the soon-approaching post-season.

Though the move is surprising given its timing, it does have some logic. It is no surprise that coach Gregg Popovich often rest his top players from time to time and Monday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors was a given as he looks to give them much needed rest before starting what they hope to be a deep playoff run.

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