China Plays Down Basketball Melee (Updated)
After the bench-clearing brawl at a goodwill basketball game between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets, team officials and players sought to downplay the incident. From the Wall Street Journal:
The Thursday match, which occurred during a visit to China by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and had been billed by the teams as a “goodwill” contest, was abandoned after a bench-clearing fight broke out in the fourth quarter. Punches and chairs flew, and the crowds hurled plastic water bottles at the Georgetown team as they exited the court.
Richard Buangan, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, called the fight “unfortunate,” adding “We look to these types of exchanges to promote good sportsmanship and strengthen our people-to-people contact with China.” Mr. Biden had watched Georgetown in an earlier game Wednesday in Beijing.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told reporters Friday that the Chinese team went to the airport in Beijing to bid farewell to the Georgetown players as they left the Chinese capital.
Update: It was reported that as the Hoyas players were leaving China, members of the Bayi Rockets came to meet with them, the New York Times reports:
The Chinese team that got into a nasty brawl with Georgetown University players in an exhibition game went to the Beijing airport to reconcile with them. A brief statement from Georgetown said Coach John Thompson III and two of the team’s players met with representatives of China’s Bayi Rockets after “heated exchanges” in Thursday night’s exhibition game.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Basketball Association announced it would not allow NBA players who were already contracted for the season to play on Chinese teams. From USA Today:
The CBA would bar players under contract such as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. They and others had expressed interest in playing in China if the NBA lockout drags on and results in the cancellation of all or part of the 2011-12 season.
The CBA said it will welcome free agent NBA players, but will require them to play an entire season in China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.