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NBA players lockout tour of China has to win over government first

Jul 4, 2011, 8:03 AM EDT

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Derrick Rose could lead a barnstorming tour of NBA players through China. So could Kobe Bryant. A few agents out there are pitching the idea of a lockout tour of China this fall and it is gaining momentum for the players.

But they better check with the Chinese government first. Because while it sounds like a money-making idea over here, over there things are viewed differently.

Over at — the best English blog about what is happening with basketball in China — they interviewed Matt Beyer, who works for North Head, a public affairs consultancy that represents a few NBA athletes in China.

While to us the barnstorming tour seems like a no-brainer, selling it to the Chinese Government requires a very different mindset.

“As China’s sports industry is controlled strictly by the government, there are many political and regulatory differences from the United States to be aware of,” explains Beyer. ”While a great idea may sell on its merits in the United States, that may not be the case in China.”

Most of the time, it’s not the case in China. Whereas professional teams and athletes in the U.S. are allowed to operate freely and independently under capitalistic market principles, the Chinese government values sports as a key political interest, and thus keeps the entire system under tight control…. With potentially the biggest market in the world, China remains cautious at the idea of simply opening up the floodgates to foreign businesses who are solely concerned with their own profits. Thus, any ideas involving a “China Basketball Tour” or a “China Contingency League” must be viewed by the government as beneficial towards the development of Chinese basketball….

Thus, if the Chinese government doesn’t feel that an NBA exhibition tour will benefit the development of Chinese basketball — i.e. that it won’t bring China closer to their goal of an Olympic gold medal — then there simply won’t be an NBA exhibition tour – even if it features NBA MVP Derrick Rose.

“The General Sports Administration, the China Basketball Management Center under the General Sports Administration and the Chinese Basketball Association must all be in consensus that an idea like this is good for Chinese basketball. Any agents proposing an idea like this in China should present it to China’s sports authorities from a perspective of a means to enrich local talent and the strength of the Chinese sports industry.”

It’s not to say that a barnstorming tour can’t happen, but one of the ideas was to have Chinese players on each of the teams and it’s going to take things like that to make this idea fly with the Chinese government.

I’m holding out hope that this tour will not be needed because the owners and players are going to come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time for the season to start. But if not, this tour could be fascinating. If it happens.

  1. penwit - Jul 4, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Yes, playing in China may not be a great idea, but our players don’t have to go to China and not even Europe! Forget China and Europe–we need our players to generate money right here in America now! There are many American communities who could benefit financially if there was a temporary league touring American cities where no NBA team has ever played. With good advertising from companies standing to loose over a billion dollars–both the players and the advertisers could reap unlimited side money while millionaires and billionaires come to a decision? It is certain other cities could benefit from NBA type revenue–cities that may never get an NBA team.

    Hope they do it!
    It’s is quite possible for a new (temporary) league to start and it could happen with Star NBA players participation. There are more than enough cities with new and unused stadiums that could be used! There are brand new stations in Lousville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and old stadiums not used in Seattle, and many more cities. 6-8 citi-stadiums with team competing against each other would help and could generate new money from TV contracts and advertising monies–making it very feasible for Star and fringe players to play somewhere during the lockout. For example, look at the Harlan Globe Trotters, they make money from touring–and just a fraction of what teams could make with major advertising from companies standing to loose a billion dollars or more.
    These stadiums have been waiting for NBA approval and expansion–and are just sitting here and there unused or under utilized. Cities and possibly states could pay player insurance costs and salaries with the new revenue generated from games–and these areas would benefit financially from having the world’s best teams play where they have not. Many jobs will temporarily be created giving many communites a finacial opportunity while jobs are leaving America–for China and other places.

    Nike and ESPN are in a position to lose a lot of NBA generated monies. Let’s see them front some serious money and put it at risk for for something that is a win win situation with an established product they helped to create. Especially when ESPN, ABC, TNT are now expecting to lose over a billion dollars during the NBA Lockout.

    They could do what they’re trying to do in the NBA – just make a half-dozen teams of stars and fringe players could help complete the teams–and the NBA would not lose the momentum they have established this year. Oh, this would be an eye-opener, trust me on this!

  2. icu84bs - Jul 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    The players are locked out, basically they are out of work. Not only does it make common sense but it is their legal right (as it is for every citizen) to seek employment elsewhere.

    They poster above makes a lot of sense. Also, there are enough great players that I hope China does allow them to tour (and grow the game) in that country. Cheers.

  3. 1historian - Jul 4, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    penwit – outstanding idea!

    Now about that handle of yours …….

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