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Former NBA all-star center Yao Ming is now dishing out assists to much wilder targets. After retiring from the Houston Rockets in 2011, Yao returned to China and set out to end his homeland's traditional appetite for endangered and threatened animal products. As an ambassador for international conservation organization WildAid, Yao has campaigned to persuade his countrymen to give up the key ingredient in one of their traditional delicacies: shark–fin soup. The “I’m FINished with Fins” campaign, which also featured Jackie Chan, soccer star David Beckham and NBA player Jeremy Lin, has been credited with reducing the tens of millions of sharks killed for their fins each year in China by at least 50 percent. NBC
Basketball players can also take advantage of the global nature of the sport. Bryant has made trips to China the past eight years for Nike and he is one of the brand’s main chips in its battle against Adidas in China. Bryant partnered with Turkish Airlines in 2010 and has been featured in commercials with global soccer star Lionel Messi. James’ Dunkin’ Donuts deal is for Asia only, and he entered into a new partnership with Chinese Internet services firm Tencent last year. These deals are not available to football and baseball players. Soccer players are the only team sport athletes that can compete with NBA players. The top 10 endorsers earned $120 million last year led by David Beckham, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who all made more than $20 million from their partners off the pitch. It also starts with the shoe deal for soccer’s biggest stars. Nike and Adidas pay high seven figures for the players above in their global competition. Messi and Ronaldo are stars in every part of the world and are not limited by geography when cutting endorsement deals. They also have bigger followings than any U.S. athlete. Ronaldo, Messi and Beckham have a combined 161 million Facebook fans. The top U.S. athlete is Bryant at 18 million. Forbes.com
When LeBron James came to the Miami Heat in 2010, he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the Big Three. But LeBron may be about to form a new tandem to storm through another sport. James confirmed on Monday that he is interested in exploring partnering with David Beckham to put a new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. “There’s some interest on both sides,” James said Monday. “David has become a good friend of mine over the last few years. I think it’d be great for this city to have a football club for sure. So there’s interest on both sides. But it’s preliminary talks but there is an open dialogue.” CBS Miami
Nash gave access to all parts of his life to producer/director Michael Hamilton and the film will include interviews with President Barack Obama, Ron Howard, David Beckham, Snoop Lion, Doug Ellin, David Blaine, David Stern, Wilson and NBA players Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Yao Ming and Baron Davis. More film information is at www.nashthemovie.com. Arizona Republic
PRINCE William and David Beckham were left creaking their necks after joining forces with the world's tallest basketball player to help endangered animals. The Duchess of Cambridge's husband and the ex-Manchester United star are working with 7 foot 6 inch NBA star Yao Ming to urge consumers not to buy illegal animal products. The trio are campaigning against products made from horns and ivory taken from rhinos along with shark fin in their work for charity WildAid. The Daily Express
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