Next Yao Ming won't come from 'fairydust'

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Yao Ming shook hands with Jeremy Lin before NBA's preseason game between Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in Shanghai.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said unearthing the next Yao Ming shouldn't be left to chance as the wildly popular US basketball league pushes efforts to develop Chinese stars.

The Houston Rockets giant set off a National Basketball Association (NBA) boom in China which still reverberates, demonstrating the enormous value of home-grown players.

As Chinese-American Jeremy Lin was mobbed in China during pre-season appearances for the Charlotte Hornets, Silver told AFP that the NBA was deeply involved with nurturing Chinese players.

"It doesn’t have to be left to fairydust," Silver told AFP in an interview in Shanghai. "It’s going to come from organized, structured programs like the ones players in the NBA are exposed to from a very young age."

The NBA, which commands huge television and mobile audiences in China and has an office in Beijing, has forged close links with Chinese authorities and especially the China Basketball Association (CBA).

Last weekend, the NBA announced a six-year extension with the CBA training centre in Dongguan, near Hong Kong, which is dedicated to developing elite players aged 12-17.

NBA players, legends, coaches and trainers, including All-Stars Derrick Rose and John Wall, have visited what is the first facility of its kind in China and has trained more than 8,000 players since 2011.

"To us, the Dongguan Academy is a blueprint to creating more programmes," Silver said. "There are lots of physically gifted players in China.

"The issue is can they get the dedicated instruction, coaching and competition that is necessary to the development of a great player?"

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