Jeremy Hobson: Now to the NBA, which is cancelling the first two weeks of the season, after players and owners
failed to reach a new labor agreement. And Commissioner David Stern says more games could be cancelled because negotiations aren’t going anywhere right now.
David Stern: I think it’s fair to say that we established the positions of the parties with complete certainty of where each stood, and we remain really very, very far apart on virtually all issues.
Well, one place where the NBA news has had a full day to filter out, is China where the NBA is quite popular. And it’s where we find our China bureau chief Rob Schmitz. Hi Rob.
Rob Schmitz: Hey Jeremy.
Hobson: So first of all, sounds like some of these NBA players — who are not going to be able to play for the first two weeks of the season — are gonna be spending some quality time in China?
Schmitz: Yeah, that’s right. If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, you’ve just lost three players to China. Wilson Chandler, JR Smith, and Kenyon Martin all signed deals with Chinese teams. I know you’re on Twitter, Jeremy — make sure to check out the Twitter feed for Wilson Chandler, who’s playing for a team in the city of Hangzhou. It’s just this hilarious feed of his first impressions of living in China. He was complaining about not having Facebook the other day.
But apart from the entertainment value, this is evidence that the Chinese league is one to be reckoned with — it can now afford to pay players millions of dollars, it’s poaching NBA players, and it’s making the viewing experience for Chinese fans much better.
Hobson: Okay, so some players are going to be doing a little work in China to make up for this, but what about the fans over there? I know there’s a big fan base for the NBA in China.
Schmitz: Yeah, there is, and I think a lot of fans are disappointed. One fan blogged that the entire NBA should just move to China to avoid the standstill. But other fans have said they’ll just watch the Chinese league. Yao Ming’s not playing anymore — he actually owns the Shanghai Sharks team — so why not? And who knows? Maybe this big China market the NBA is after will get hooked on their own league.
Hobson: Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz in Shanghai, where the news has already gotten out about the NBA cancellation of the first two weeks of the season. We’ll see, Rob, as people start to wake up in this country, how the reaction is over here. Thanks so much for talking with us.
Schmitz: Thanks Jeremy.
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