The Chinese New Year has been honored by the NBA, with a twist to their team warm-up uniforms. The NBA uniforms will depict elegant golden horses, since 2014 represents the Year of the Horse for the Chinese. The uniforms are to symbolize a six day celebration, lasting from January 29 through February 5. China is the NBA’s largest international market, with some of the most loyal and committed fans.
This is the third consecutive year the league has celebrated the Chinese New Year with its fans; the first two years attracted 96 million and 107 million Chinese viewers alone. There are ten powerhouse teams participating in this year’s celebration; six from the Western Conference and four from the Eastern Conference. The western division is compiled by the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. The Houston Rockets have a legacy of Chinese players from the 2002 number one overall pick Yao Ming, and now point guard Jeremy Lin.
The Eastern division is compiled by the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, and Washington Wizards. These are the ten teams that will be appearing on broadcast television stations like TNT. Some players, like Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, will be showcasing specially designed shoes in honor of the Chinese New Year. Fans will actually have the opportunity to purchase a pair of their own, once Nike releases them to the public. With the Chinese New Year being honored by the NBA, there are evident patterns of how international viewership has changed and benefitted the game.
The Chinese New Year celebration gravitates around a story about a monster named Nian, who at the end of every year rampaged into villages to eat people and destroy their homes. The story goes that an old wise man, later unveiled as a God, advises the villagers to create loud noises and bright lights in order to scare off the monster back to its cave. Another similar version of the story is said the loud noises and bright lights drove the monster mad into attacking the village’s other feared monsters. That is why every year fire-crackers and fireworks are an essential part to the Chinese New Year’s celebration. It becomes appropriate for the bright lights of an NBA stadiums and the loud stadium crowds to help commemorate such an important Chinese holiday.
Although there is no NBA game scheduled to be played during the Chinese New Year celebration in China, the league has done its part in honoring the legendary holiday. This season’s pre-season also had showcased two games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors; one game in Beijing and one game in Shanghai. Although the pre-season games showcased some of the league’s best shooters in Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, the highlight of the games was the presence of Laker legend Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who holds the number one selling jersey in China and was sidelined from the games due to his torn achilles tendon, received thunderous applause every second his face appeared on the big screen. The applause was enough to scare away any village monster.
Bryant’s Chinese fans exemplify why the league will be committed to expanding its fan-base internationally. The NBA is honored to be showcasing some of its most talented teams in celebration of the Chinese New Year with its fans.
By Zane Foley