NBA Players In China

Why NBA Players Go To Play Basketball In China

NBA players go to play basketball in China for several reasons. Some NBA players use it as a way to prolong their careers and stay in shape during the NBA offseason.

Other NBA players who have been injured or are recovering from surgery will also use it as a form of rehab, playing games with less pressure on them than they would have if they were playing at home.

Still, others go to China because they find themselves out of work after being cut by NBA teams, and going overseas provides them with an opportunity that might not exist otherwise.

Whatever the reason may be, there are many opportunities for NBA ballers looking for work over the winter months!

Reasons Why NBA Players End Up in China

NBA Players In China

Prolonging their Basketball Careers

NBA players look at China as a way to prolong their basketball careers, so they may play for longer. This is especially true of older NBA players who have been cut from or not re-signed by NBA teams and are waiting out the NBA lockout.

Younger NBA players go overseas to extend their playing days in case there is an extended work stoppage when the NBA season resumes.

Getting In Shape

NBA players also go to China so they can stay in shape for the NBA season. NBA teams practice and play preseason games during October, so NBA players who choose to go to China often do so in November or December.

This gives them enough time to get back to the United States before their respective NBA team starts training camp.

Playing in a Lower Pressure Environment

NBA players also go to China because they want to play in a lower-pressure environment. This is especially true for NBA players who are coming off of an unsuccessful season or have been traded to a team that they do not want to play for.

For example, Corey Brewer went to the Shanghai Sharks after he was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the New York Knicks.

Rehabilitation after Injuries or Surgery

Other times, injured NBA players will head overseas to finish up rehab on injuries that aren’t considered serious enough for them to need surgery

In some cases, though it can be difficult because if you’re coming off injury then your team might only want you fit before letting you play again, NBA players will also go for rehabilitation for more serious injuries such as ACL tears.

Out of Work Players/Free Agents

NBA players who are out of work or have been cut by NBA teams might find playing in China as their only opportunity to continue playing basketball professionally. It’s a way for them to keep their skills sharp and make some money while they search for another NBA contract.

Enjoy Playing Basketball Overseas

Some NBA players simply enjoy playing basketball in other countries, especially against different competitions. This is the case with many American players who go to play in Europe.

The level of competition isn’t as high as it is in the NBA, but the experience of playing in a new country can be rewarding. NBA players who go to play in China often enjoy it for this reason.

Former NBA Players in China

There have been many NBA players who have played in China over the years. Some of the more notable ones include Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady, and Gilbert Arenas. These players all enjoyed varying levels of success while playing in China.

For some, it was a way to rejuvenate their careers. For others, it was a final stop before retiring from basketball altogether. Whatever the case may be, playing in China has become an increasingly popular option for NBA players looking for new opportunities outside of America’s top professional league.

Is the NBA Popular in China?

The NBA is growing in popularity in China. The NBA has a dedicated channel that broadcasts its games live in Mandarin. This is because the NBA sees China as a huge potential market for its products and services. The league has been doing a lot of marketing and promotional activities in China over the past few years, and it seems to be paying off.

An estimated 300 million people play basketball in China. This makes basketball one of the most popular sports in the country. This huge population of players provides a large potential market for the NBA. In addition, Chinese companies are starting to invest in NBA teams.

For example, Dalian Wanda Group purchased a 20% stake in the Los Angeles Lakers in January 2016. As NBA-China relations continue to strengthen, we can expect to see more and more NBA players going to play there.

Basketball Leagues in China

NBA Players In China

Chinese Basketball Association (CBA)

The first tier of basketball in China is the CBA. It has existed since 1995 and was formed to help develop NBA-caliber players for NBA rosters. The season lasts from November through February – which means it’s shorter than NBA seasons, but there are still some quality games that NBA fans can enjoy watching on television or streaming online.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) brings together the best of professional teams all across China, including Macau and Hong Kong.

This league allows international players who would like to play basketball without having to relocate their entire family to come over and try out for these NBA organizations’ affiliate teams in China while earning a pretty good living playing ball overseas too!

National Basketball League (NBL)

The second tier of Chinese basketball is the National Basketball League (NBL). This league was founded in 2004 and currently has 15 teams. The season runs from October to February.

The NBL is considered to be a developmental league for the CBA. Many of the players in this league are prospects who are hoping to make it to the top level of Chinese basketball. NBA fans may not see as many high-quality games in this league, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on if you’re interested in Chinese basketball.

Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA)

The third tier of Chinese basketball is the Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA). This league was founded in 1998 and currently has 33 teams. The season runs from February to June, with a break during March for the CBA playoffs.

The CUBA’s purpose is to promote university-level sports events all across China. NBA fans may not see as many high-quality games here either, but this league does provide an opportunity for NBA scouts to look out for potential NBA players that they may want to draft into one of their affiliate teams later on down the line!

Yao Ming | The Best Chinese Export to the NBA

There have been several Chinese players who have made it to the NBA. The most successful one has undoubtedly been Yao Ming. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall pick in 2002 and went on to play eight seasons in the NBA.

Yao Ming is considered to be responsible for the increasing popularity of basketball in China. He was an incredible player – averaging 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game over his career. He was also an eight-time All-Star and won two gold medals with Team China.

NBA Players In China

After retiring from the NBA in 2011, Yao Ming became a co-owner of the Shanghai Sharks (the team he played for before entering the NBA). He also started the Yao Ming Foundation, which is dedicated to providing help for the underprivileged in China.

Yao Ming was an NBA champion and NBA All-Star, but he will always be remembered as one of the most influential Chinese players who ever played basketball – not just in his home country but also all around the world!


We hope you have enjoyed this blog post on why some NBA players go to play basketball in China! As we mentioned earlier, the NBA is growing increasingly popular in China due to the league’s marketing efforts and increased investment from Chinese companies. Thanks for reading!

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