Allen Iverson injects passion into China's rural basketball

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 17, 2023
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When recalling Thursday night's basketball contest, Shi Gan is still overjoyed by seeing the former NBA star Allen Iverson in front of him.

"I still can't believe that Allen Iverson came to Taipan's village basketball competition, interacted with the spectators and watched us playing games," said the 30-year-old, adding that he and his teammates were deeply inspired by Iverson's visit.

Under the gaze of tens of thousands of spectators, Iverson, wearing a silver crown made by the local Miao ethnic group, appeared on the court in Taipan Village, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Taipan, which hosted the Village Basketball Competition of China in 2022, rose to fame both at home and abroad, due to the enthusiasm of local villagers and participants towards basketball and the lively atmosphere.

On Thursday night, a team from Shaxi Town of Guangdong Province, who won this year's championship, was invited to participate in a friendly match with Shi's team from Qiandongnan. Before the contest, Iverson interacted with the spectators and instructed the local players on how to dribble and shoot.

"Iverson is loved by many Chinese fans with his superb skills and daring spirit on the court, and his visit will surely arouse his fans' love for basketball," said Cen Jianglong, Party chief of the village and a basketball fan.

Iverson is not the lone NBA star that has visited Taipan. Before him, Jimmy Butler and Stephon Marbury also paid a visit to the village in July.

Butler also interacted with fans and spectators and even greeted people in local dialect. The NBA player was deeply moved by learning that Taipan, with less than 1,200 villagers, boasts a basketball history of around 90 years.

"He [Butler] said that it was 'unbelievable'," Cen recalled the scene, adding that Butler not only enjoyed China's purest grassroots basketball in Taipan, but also inspired fans and spectators with his exquisite skills. 

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