The NBA is a dream for a lot of people. They work and work their whole lives to try to hear their names being broadcast on the television as they are called to the stage to get the hat of their new team and shake the commissioner’s hand. But not everyone can make it to the NBA. There are some that don’t get that opportunity. And along with those that don’t get the opportunity, there are some that don’t last as long as they would like. In that instance, some players make the decision to quit playing the game. At that point, their second career starts quicker than they wanted it to. But for others, the decision to go overseas still is there. With that being said, it seems like the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is starting to become a place where former NBA players and college stars tend to land. And because of that, the CBA has become better and better. And with the NBA becoming a place that not everyone can play in, the CBA is becoming a place where players go.
“People love basketball in China,” says former NBA and CBA basketball player David Harrison. “The national sport is ping pong, but every game I played in was sold out.” Harrison was drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Indiana Pacers in the 2004 NBA Draft. He played a total of four seasons in the NBA with the Pacers, never averaging more than six points per game. At the end of his fourth year, the Pacers and the rest of the NBA decided to not give him a shot in the NBA anymore. He was out of a job and looking for work. And then came the CBA. David played a total of three years in China and had great production over there for the Beijing Ducks and the Guangdong Southern Tigers, even having a season where he averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds. He was able to extend his career and play somewhere that allowed him to get as many minutes as he could. We have seen some revive their careers to an extent over there, but when asked is it a league to revive you career, Harrison said “I’m not sure about reviving your career to return to the NBA. But it is a viable option. There are millions to be made there for sure.”
But with any league, there has to be some adjustments that have to be made. Besides the language barrier, there is one rule that is very interesting that may still be in play over there. “If you are American, you can only play three quarters of a game. So in that instance, the game became a strategic one as to who you play when.” says Harrison. Another interesting thing over there is the cities that are played in. Some cities are big and there is not much of an adjustment. But in some of the smaller cities, Harrison describes them by saying they are “as bad a third world countries”. And if you’re hoping for good officiating over there, then think again. When asked about the officiating, Harrison said “it is horrible and it makes you definitely appreciate the NBA officiating.” Like Harrison said earlier, there are millions to be made over there in China, but they are given at a smaller rate than in the NBA. The average NBA salary is roughly five million. The highest average salary per season over there is not even over $3 million. To give you an idea, former NBA player Andray Blatche just signed the richest contract in the CBA, making a guaranteed $7.5 million over three years (which the CBA used to only offer one-year deals). The CBA is growing and making some leaps in their history and from Harrison’s thoughts, the league is a legit league.
The CBA will only become a bigger product as more collegiate stars and players who are not in the NBA continue to go over there and make the league better. Guys like Willie Warren (former Oklahoma Sooners guard), Marshon Brooks (former 1st round pick of the Boston Celtics), Dominique Jones (former 1st round pick of the Dallas Mavericks) and Michael Beasley (former #2 overall pick) are just a few of the names that are making serious waves over in China, putting up insane scoring numbers provided they only play three quarters. The next step for China is to get their games broadcast over here in the United States. And with more and more players from the United States going there, the CBA could be coming to a television near you. It isn’t a matter of “when” but “if”. The CBA is here and is becoming the most prominent league outside of the NBA. If you don’t believe they are becoming a factor, read what Harrison said about the CBA: “The CBA has more viewers than the NBA.”