China may have found the oft-discussed “next Yao Ming.” Of course he is only 13 years old, so we’ll have to wait a while to find out. But according to the Wenhui Daily, Tian Yuchen is already 205 cm tall — that’s almost 6-foot-9. When Yao Ming was 13, he was “only” 197 cm. Tian is from Changchun in Jilin province and he’s already a member of the Shanghai Sharks youth team, the same place Yao got his start. The paper said Tian is considered the “secret weapon” for the Sharks’ much-needed CBA turnaround (they are currently 3-5 and dead last in the CBA South Division standings). Tian is actually being trained to play as a guard and he’s already signed an endorsement deal with athletic apparel brand Li Ning.
In other China basketball related news, former Shanghai bureau chief for Newsweek Brook Larmer will be celebrating the release of his book Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business, and the Making of an NBA Superstar with a talk and book signing this Sunday at The Glamour Bar at M on the Bund (we’re assuming Malone’s and Big Bamboo were fully booked). The event runs from 4-6 pm and entrance is RMB 50, which includes a drink. On Tuesday, December 13, Larmer will participate in a panel discussion called “From Yao Ming to the Next Big Thing: Selling China’s Sporting Stars” at Third Degree on the seventh floor of Three on the Bund. The discussion starts at 7:30 pm and also includes sports marketing specialist Tor Petersen and Zhang Lixin, an executive with a UK-based sports and entertainment marketing company. Admission for the discussion is RMB 50 and you are expected to RSVP to xdancao(at)gmail.com by Monday if you are planning on attending.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Vigorous CBA, it’s your time!