In China, a Rocky Ascent for Basketball

While the NBA enjoys immense popularity in China, the local league isn’t enjoying the same success, according to the New York Times:

With 1.3 billion potential fans, China is increasingly seen as a financial promised land for N.B.A. stars through endorsement deals, and the league itself has established a robust organization here valued at $2 billion.

But China’s own professional league, the Chinese Basketball Association, has hardly enjoyed a smooth ascendance alongside this country’s basketball boom. American players and agents describe broken contracts, unpaid wages, suspicions of game-fixing and rising resentment toward foreign players. Several players have left China after failing to receive paychecks. Last month, the league announced that it lost $17 million last season, which ended in May.

Players and coaches in China’s professional league said problems escalated last season after the association loosened salary and court-time restrictions on foreign players, part of an effort to heighten the game’s appeal to China’s growing N.B.A fan base and to bring in more lucrative sponsorship deals. The association also hoped the prowess of imported players would help bolster China’s basketball prospects for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

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