In an unprecedented move for the National Basketball Association, the U.S. basketball league will recognize its largest international fan base to ring in the Chinese Lunar New Year, enlisting stars such as Jeremy Lin, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Dwayne Wade in its efforts to promote the game there.
As part of the celebrations, a record 56 NBA games will be broadcasted live in China, showcasing 27 of the 30 NBA teams. A commercial entitled "Surprise Door" that features Lin, Curry, Harden and Wade will air on various television and digital platforms to tip off the events in that country.
"Chinese New Year is a time of joyful family reunion and provides an occasion for us to share in the festivities by delivering the excitement of the NBA right into the homes of our fans," NBA China CEO David Shoemaker said. "We truly appreciate the support of our Chinese fans, and we are thrilled to tip off our NBA Chinese New Year Celebration Season of Giving by dedicating a new basketball court in Fujian Province."
China, which is celebrating the Year of the Goat for 2015, is the largest overseas market for the NBA outside of the United States. According to a press release issued by the NBA, the Lunar New Year celebrations will last from Feb. 19 to March 4.
According to the NBA's press release, China's state-run CCTV will broadcast 20 NBA matchups, starting with a Feb. 19 matchup between Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Another matchup airing after that game will feature Tim Duncan and current NBA champions San Antonio Spurs facing off against Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Selected teams, including the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, will put on special Chinese New Year uniforms to commemorate the occasion. Rockets Communications reported that team owner Leslie Alexander thought it was "a great opportunity" to show appreciation to fans based in China; he elaborated on the history of the Rockets with that country.
"The Lunar New Year uniforms represent a great opportunity to honor our incredibly loyal and passionate fans throughout China," Alexander said. "From the time the Rockets participated in the first live NBA television broadcast in China on June 8, 1994, to my selecting Shanghai's native son Yao Ming with the first overall selection of the 2002 NBA Draft, to our participation in the first NBA China Games in 2004, the Rockets have always enjoyed a very special bond with our fans across the region."
Alexander added that the special uniforms "honor the culture, heritage and historical and future connection" the Rockets enjoy with Chinese fans. NBA legend Yao Ming also approved of the gesture.
"It brings great joy to me to see the Houston Rockets honor one of my country's most important traditions," Ming said. "I'm excited to ring in the Year of the Goat watching the Rockets wear the Lunar New Year uniforms."
According to an NBA.com article, Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts mentioned that the special uniforms his team will wear on March 4 "recognize the tremendous fan base that our Asian community represents."
"Connecting with our Asian community is a priority for our organization and we are proud that we are going to be one of two teams in the NBA to debut a Chinese New Year themed uniform as a way to thank our fans here in the Bay Area and abroad in China," Welts said.
Other events for the NBA schedule during the Chinese New Year include NBA veteran and All-Star Gary Payton conducting a special basketball clinic for underprivileged children in China and a donation of basketballs to students throughout Chinese elementary schools.
More information on the upcoming event, which uses Mandarin language, can be found at NBACNY.com.