Chinese basketball leagues can’t stand the heat, but aren’t ready to leave the kitchen

, Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 3:06 AM Comments (1)

Yao Ming elbows Chris KamanIn an attempt to make the gameplay in Chinese basketball leagues more physical, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) may be doing more harm than good to the sport in their country.

CBA chief Liu Xiaonong cited the Chinese national team’s poor performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as time when they realized their players needed to “strengthen their physical presence” if Chinese basketball players were going to be able to compete with the rest of the best of the world.

Instead of yielding the desired effects, which are still unclear, the CBA has levied a record $140,500 in fines this season. The fines have been for unruly fans as well as the players physical violence both on and off the court. Most of the incidents involving fans were due to spectator outrage at the calls or non-calls of officials abiding by the new CBA directives.

What little I know about the Chinese culture doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in me that their people could suddenly, overnight adapt to a more physical, less respectful, confrontational form of this sport without some kind of blowback. This really shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.

Instead of questioning whether this was actually a good idea in the first place, or whether the roll out of such a sweeping change in how the game is played in such a quick manner was the right plan of action, the CBA blamed the problems on bad marketing and bad officiating.

The league has not done a good enough job in getting the message about physicality out.

There is too great a distance between the standard of refereeing and what is required at this competitive level.

- CBA chief Liu Xiaonong

Never missing an opportunity to drum up a possible corruption and conspiracy theory, the CBA claimed that the poor officiaing of some refs might be proof of bias.

My one piece of advice to the Chinese Basketball Association, be yourself. Don’t try and mold yourself the the status quo. Be the Duke Blue Devils, be the Phoenix Suns. You can still compete and win with a different style of play.

Not exactly the style I had in mind

Not exactly the style I had in mind

Before Shaq, Phoenix didn’t have a bruising behemoth of a center. They had a bunch of fast guys that could run up and down the court all day and put up crazy points. It may not have gotten them a championship, but they were competitive, won a ton of games each year and were always relevant come playoff time.

And Duke knows their guys won’t make it in the NBA. So they don’t build an NBA-style team with a true center, a power forward that can post up, some wing players that can run and knock-down j’s and a point guard that can lead the team. The put a bunch athletes that were spoiled as children and now think too highly of themselves, but are willing to work hard for 40 minutes. And against collegiate competition, their style works. They’re always in the top-25, and as long as they don’t have to play VCU, they’re always a team to be reckoned with in the NCAA tournament. The important part is that it’s their style, and it works for them.

Even the international style of basketball is a much more fluid, less physical and confrontational type of game. The USA Basketball Team adapts to that in the way they select their players. That’s why there were more jump shooters and big men that could drive and shoot on the 2008 Gold Medal winning team.

So China, do it your way, create your own style of play and make the rest of the world adapt to you.

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