Today in Sports History: September 24

By Brandon Zhu

On this day in 1985, the Chinese national basketball team arrived in New York to begin a month of training and practice with NBA personnel, as part of the cultural and educational agreements between China and the United States. This came as a result of David Stern’s vision to globalize the NBA. Stern welcomed Mou Zouyun, known as the “godfather of Chinese basketball,” to the US and within weeks Zouyun took up Stern’s offer of “one day hosting the Chinese national team.” .This event sparked the beginning of a prosperous relationship that grew the NBA into the international phenomenon it is today. NBA legend Yao Ming, talked about the impact of the NBA and China relationship and spoke to the importance of watching the 1994 NBA Finals as a 14-year-old. 1994 was the first year that the NBA Finals broadcasted live rather than on a tape delay. Yao Ming’s selection by the Houston Rockets as the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NBA draft may have been impossible if not for the relationship created by commissioner Stern. In the 2017-18 season, more than six hundred million Chinese fans streamed NBA games. Although the recent relationship between the NBA and China has been turbulent, basketball has always served to be more than just a game. Basketball is a form of diplomacy and current NBA commissioner Adam Silver said it best when he described the game as a unifying tool between the U.S. and China, “Basketball runs deep in the hearts and minds of our two peoples. At a time when divides between nations grow deeper and wider, we believe sports can be a unifying force that focuses on what we have in common as human beings rather than our differences.”

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