The National Basketball Association is one of the most watched programs in the world. The NBA roster has 109 international players from 39 different countries.

Some of these players come from China: for example, Yao Ming, Jeremy Lin, Wang ZhiZhi, Yi Jianlian and Sun Yue.

These athletes all gained the attention of the NBA after successful careers in the CBA (the Chinese Basketball Association). 

The CBA consists of twenty teams. There are ten in the Northern Division and ten in the Southern Division.

Map of CBA’s Northern and Southern Division Teams

Unfortunately this year’s CBA is looking different due to COVID-19 restrictions. As seen in the United States during the peak of COVID-19, the CBA games are taking place in a “bubble.” This bubble is a single stadium in Zhuji, Zhejiang. The purpose behind it is to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19. 

The silver lining to this restriction is that fans will see a high number of domestic players, including rising stars such as Zhang Zhenlin. Zhang was the first Chinese player to play NCAA basketball.

After a prolonged pause in the league, the CBA has announced a new slogan, “CBA 2.0,” with the goal of ensuring better broadcasting to fans. 

To further show support for its fans and players, the CBA also adopted the slogan “Don’t fail your love.” It encourages players and youth to pursue their dreams of playing basketball. 

All of this has been made possible by Yao Ming, the president of the CBA. His impact on the CBA and its relationship with the NBA dates back to 2002.

Yao opened the doors for scouting of Chinese players in the NBA. This spiked fans’ enthusiasm for the game like never before. 

Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal in the NBA
USA Today

Yao bridged the gap between China and the NBA. Now as commissioner of the CBA, he hopes to find the next best basketball player that can represent China globally.

Yao Ming hopes to apply the same operating tactics used in the NBA to the CBA. The CBA is currently the world’s second-highest basketball league. 

While it may not happen overnight, Yao hopes to transform and advance China’s domestic basketball leagues.

Imagine the NBA without the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The majority of the NBA’s world-renowned athletes played college ball, slowly gaining the attention of scouts.

The CBA does not have the same program to rely on. 300 million citizens are devoted fans and play in smaller basketball programs, but they do not have the same opportunities as NCAA players.

Yao aspires to reform this building block of the CBA. “Don’t fail your love” represents the desire to change the mindset of up and coming players, from the age of six to the age of 21. 

Sports have always been a way to bring the world together through the NBA, the World Cup and the Olympic Games. With all that the world has been through during COVID, international sports organizations fought to find ways to provide some form of normalcy to individuals. 

Although it took time and some unorthodox ways, these organizations did not fail their own love nor their fans’ love for sports. Yao took note of this and he hopes this persevering mindset remains to inspire all fans, current players, and rising stars. 


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Caroline Liekweg
Caroline is a writing intern from the University of Southern California, majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Chinese for the Professions. She hopes to use her writing to address and understand cultural connections between China and Western countries.
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