HoopsHype Wasserman Media Group rumors

June 30, 2011 Updates

On Monday, the Sports Business Journal published a summary authored by Wasserman Media Group proposing the idea of a “China Basketball Tour” as an option for its players in the event of a lockout. Wasserman, which represents 45 NBA players, including NBA MVP Derrick Rose, began pitching the idea in April with a plan of bringing over around 15-20 athletes for a four-team, three city tour that would last in between two and three weeks. NiuBBall.com

Matt Beyer, an Associate Director at North Head, a public affairs consultancy based in Beijing which represents several NBA athletes in China, has been working on a similar idea since the beginning of March when the potential of a NBA work stoppage turned more serious. When discussing what he calls a “China Contingency League,” Beyer, who worked as Yi Jianlian’s personal interpreter during his rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007-08, sees the obvious potential in bringing over a group of NBA players to play in China. “China is a massive market for NBA basketball, so it makes sense for players and agents to look here to capitalize on a lockout situation,” says Beyer. NiuBBall.com

But Beyer, like any other foreigner with sports business experience in China, knows that simply having an idea, no matter how good of a one it is, is meaningless unless you understand the systematic differences between the U.S. and China. And in China, those differences always start with government, which controls almost all aspects of the Chinese sports system. “As China’s sports industry is controlled strictly by the government, there are many political and regulatory differences from the United States to be aware of,” explains Beyer. ”While a great idea may sell on its merits in the United States, that may not be the case in China.” NiuBBall.com

“The General Sports Administration, the China Basketball Management Center under the General Sports Administration and the Chinese Basketball Association must all be in consensus that an idea like this is good for Chinese basketball. Any agents proposing an idea like this in China should present it to China’s sports authorities from a perspective of a means to enrich local talent and the strength of the Chinese sports industry.” NiuBBall.com

June 28, 2011 Updates

Armed with its star-studded NBA client list, Wasserman Media Group is proposing a basketball exhibition tournament in China as the agency explores moneymaking options for its players should there be an extended lockout. In a “China Basketball Tour” proposal summary obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, a sister publication of Sporting News, Wasserman in April began floating a plan to bring 15 to 20 of its NBA clients to China for a two- or three-week tournament if there is a work stoppage. The agency represents 45 NBA players, including this past season’s Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose. Sporting News

Wasserman initially targeted mid-July for the tour, but organizers now are looking at potential dates in late August or early September. Scheduling is tight, though, as FIBA’s men’s basketball Asian Games are set for late September in China, and the Chinese Basketball Association starts its season in mid-October. According to the summary, the proposed tournament aims to match NBA players represented by Wasserman with Chinese Basketball Association players to form at least four teams to play during the exhibition. Targeted locations for the tour include Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, but no deals have been signed with any facilities. Sporting News

A source said NBA players would not be restricted from playing elsewhere during a work stoppage, but there are major issues for organizers, such as securing player insurance, something that one sports marketing source doing business in China said could make any exhibition cost prohibitive. Sporting News

Despite the absence of hoop icon, Yao Ming, newly-appointed National Basketball Association (NBA) China's CEO, David Shoemaker, has faith in the sport's foundation here and has vowed to keep its momentum going. Houston Rockets' all-star center Yao, who triggered nationwide interests in the NBA since his debut in 2002, is battling a career-threatening ankle injury. His uncertain future and possible retirement would supposedly reduce the NBA's popularity in China. However, the new boss shrugged that scenario off and stressed the game's close bond with the nation. "I don't see (Yao's) uncertainty is having a negative impact. In fact, I think it has generated a whole lot of interest," said Shoemaker, who officially assumed the post on June 1, replacing Tim Chen. China Daily

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