News » NBA ends talks on joint league in China

NBA ends talks on joint league in China

NBA ends talks on joint league in ChinaBEIJING, October 11, 2009 (AFP) - The NBA said Sunday it had put off discussions with Chinese sports authorities to set up a jointly-run Basketball league despite China's intent to improve the game in theworld's most populous nation.But National Basketball Association commissioner David Stern announced that the world's top Basketball league would seek further cooperation with China and had reached an agreement to develop and train the nation's coaches."On the question of a league, our colleagues in the Chinese Basketball Association have indicated to us that their most important subject is the improvement and growth of Basketball at all levels throughout China," Stern said."As a result... we have decided to leave for another day, a later day, the discussions on the potential cooperation on the subject of a league," he said ahead of a pre-season match here between the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers.Stern refused to discuss the nature of discussions on a joint league, but the NBA has long-held aspirations to establish its own branded league in a nation where, the NBA claims, up to 450 million people watch its games on television.Such a vast television and media market, coupled with robust merchandising and iconic Chinese NBA players like Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, has made China thebiggest market for the NBA outside of the United States.Last year, the NBA announced joint projects to build an arena in Shanghai for the2010 World Expo and another in Guangzhou in time for the 2010 Asian Games.While the work on the Shanghai arena was ongoing, Stern said, the NBA was still in "consultations" with local authorities on the Guangzhou facility.The NBA is partnering the entertainment firm AEG and Chinese investors to build and operate the arenas, with the Shanghai building expected to cost up to $277 million, the league said earlier.The NBA and AEG currently manage and operate Beijing's Wukesong Gymnasium, a state-of-the-art arena that served as the venue for Basketball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Sunday's game was also played at Wukesong.The arenas have been seen as the bedrock for the NBA in its efforts to run jointly a Basketball league here eventually.In August, Chinese Vice Minister of Sports Cui Dalin said any professional sports leagues in China would be run by the national federations, comments that appeared to put a damper on jointly-run leagues with sports powers like the NBA or the English Premiership.Stern, however, said that the NBA would continue to make efforts to expand into China."We will stand ready to make available our expertise on Basketball operations, marketing, officiating and all matters relating to league operations and as our colleagues at the CBA seek them," he said.He also left thedoor open for Yao Ming to one day buy an NBA team."I have told Yao to save his money and when he saves enough he should definitely buy anNBA team," Stern quipped.

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Added: October 13, 2009


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