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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Chinese Basketball Association Becoming Go-To Destination For Ex-NBAers

Miles Cooper |
September 27, 2010 | 2:46 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The Chinese Basketball Association may not be as prestigious or have as big of a following as the NBA or the Euroleague, but the CBA does have the perfect environment for American ex-NBA players to thrive.

For a country and a league that preaches a group over individual mentality, it would seem, with the recent importing of individualistic-minded players (such as Stephon Marbury), that the CBA is making a strong push to up its popularity.

Over the years, American NBA players have been more popular in China than Chinese American players. For example, Kobe Bryant’s jersey sells more in China than Yao Ming’s does.  

In the past few years, the CBA has recruited highly touted, yet highly disgruntled Americans who decide to play the way they were taught in college (scoring makes you a star) rather than the team-oriented style of basketball Chinese teams are accustomed to.

And it's working. The Americans who have been in the CBA thus far have certainly flourished. An American player has led the league in scoring in each of the last two seasons. In fact, out of the Top 10 scorers in the league last season, only one was Chinese -- and he was 10th on the list.

This is the primary reason we see such players as Smush Parker in the CBA.

The league gives the Americans the freedom to shoot or pass as much, or as little, as they desire. And in doing so, the league allows players such as Parker to lead his team, the Guangdong Southern Tigers, to a championship as its leading scorer.

The CBA has become so popular that many ex-NBA players are no longer going to the Euroleague, which is the next best professional league to the NBA, but instead going to China.

Could this be because some Americans cannot compete with the competition that the Euroleague provides? Or is it that these players would rather score points against second-class talent and earn a paycheck while doing it?

We may never know the answers to these questions, but we can see players such as Marbury, Parker, Bonzi Wells and possibly Allen Iverson taking this option.

Some of the players I am referring to have no other option but to ride their NBA stardom into China.

Iverson and Marbury received no offers from NBA teams and obviously were not ready to retire. The CBA offers a place where they can showcase their talents and be in an enviroment where they are loved while also making money. Iverson, for instance, was reportedly offered $4 million per year by the Foshan Dragons.

While Iverson and Marbury may be exiled from the NBA, players such as James Singleton are choosing the CBA, where they can earn at least twice what they would earn in the NBA and have the opportunity to be a star. Singleton was reportedly offered a minimum salary contract in the NBA but took a deal with the Xinjiang Gyang Hui Flying Tigers instead.

What does this say about the competition difference between the NBA and the CBA? 

We did not see players like Linas Kleiza and Josh Childress leave the NBA and go to China. They instead chose to play in the Euroleague and, as a result of their choice, received great NBA contracts later on.

There was a time when the NBA was full of players who believed competition and winning were everything; players like Magic, Bird, Russell and Jordan.

Obviously times have changed though. We are now witnesses to a new era, an era where money takes precedent over competition and the Marbury's of the world go to China in order to dominate the ball, boost their stats, add to their bank accounts and bolster their ever-expanding egos.

I miss the old days.

To reach writer Miles Cooper, click here.

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