The 2004 National Basketball Association (NBA) China Games ended
in tremendous style with Bobby Jackson sinking a last minute jump
shot from the right corner to give the Sacramento Kings a 91-89 win
over the Houston Rockets.
Jackson shot the ball with only seven seconds left in the match
before the Rockets failed their last attack, sending the near
17,000 strong crowd into ecstasy in Beijing's Capital Stadium. The
Kings guard had also tied the game with a three-pointer leaving
Sacramento trailing 89-86 one minute to go in the fourth quarter of
the pre-season game.
"I always dream about taking the final shot, today I surely
didn't want it to go into overtime," Jackson said. "Both teams
played hard and I'm happy that we came away with the win." He had
more than proved himself after missing the first game in Shanghai
on October 14 when Houston pulled off a 88-86 victory.
However, there was more than one winner; this is the first time
one of the world's most watched games hit the world's most populous
nation since 1979, when the then NBA champions Washington traveled
to China to play two exhibition games against the Chinese national
"We are here to present the Chinese fans the authentic NBA
games," said David Stern, the ambitious NBA commissioner.
Compared to the 1979 trip, these games were definitely more
entertaining with professional management, several millions of
dollars' investment and Yao Ming, the Chinese Rockets
Altogether around 30,000 fans watched the two games live and got
a taste of the NBA experience -- the on-court DJ, wild
cheerleaders, slam dunk acrobats and team mascots and, most of all,
the dazzling display put on by NBA stars. As they were broadcast to
the nation, the actual audience would have been even larger.
"These two games have provided Chinese basketball fans with a
special opportunity to experience the passion of NBA basketball,"
He shot 4-of-5 from the field and made 13 points and eight
rebounds in 27 minutes. Fans chanted his name throughout the game
while he received rolling cheers every time he touched the ball,
reminiscent of the first game in his hometown, Shanghai.
The same fanatical cheers also went to other players on court
including Yao's national teammate Liu Wei, currently training with
Sacramento and aiming to become the first Asian guard in NBA,
despite his 12-minute error-prone and scoreless play.
"The atmosphere is awesome," said Wang Han, a high school
student and loyal Rockets fan. "This is much better than I expected
and much better than watching the game on TV," he said as he held
the famous NBA slogan "I love this game" and a poster of Yao in his
NBA is China's favorite sport and the two pre-season games
consolidated its No.1 status especially since that other popular
sport, soccer, suffered a disastrous setback with China recently
losing a crucial World Cup qualifying match to Kuwait. The national
soccer league is also bedeviled by allegations of match-fixing and
"I am comfortable foreseeing a great growth and success for NBA
in China," Stern said on Friday in Beijing.
According to an Asia Market Intelligence AsiaBus survey in March
2003, 75 per cent of Chinese aged 15-24, 58 per cent of 15-24
year-olds and 43 per cent of 15-64 year-olds claim to be NBA
This popularity has attracted the NBA to cultivate China's huge
potential market and Stern is waiting for a huge return from
bringing two NBA games to China.
"We never lose money and this is just an investment," Stern
It would not be difficult to secure a good return with the
involvement of Yao, a favorite of NBA marketing activities in
"I did the things that I should have, I played the matches and I
went to the activities that I was supposed to," said Yao who
appeared at shopping centers and press conferences and oversaw
the launch of the Chinese version of his new autobiography
during the week long event.
"I think the marketing of the NBA is something Chinese
businesses should learn," he said.
(China Daily October 18, 2004)