In what we’re sure is a total coincidence, NBA entities had two big China-related announcements right around the time Team USA finished its gold medal romp in Wukesong Arena in Beijing.
NBA China signed a sponsorship deal with Tsingtao, China’s most popular beer and its only beverage brand with an international presence. According to this Bloomberg report, the deal includes plans for a dance contest and All-Star balloting in China. Tsingtao was on Olympic sponsor, available at the friendly price of 5 yuan at all venues during the games.
The other China product with a hot NBA contract is 23-year-old Sun Yue (孙悦), a guard who finally signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Sun was drafted by the Lakers in 2007, but stayed with the Chinese national team to pick up some seasoning before starting contract talks this summer.
While Tsing Tsao and the NBA looks like a match made in heaven, we’re a little more skeptical about Sun and the Lakers. He’ll join a backcourt that doesn’t need much help — Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Kobe Bryant seem to have things pretty well in hand, and the team has a couple of other good prospects in training camp. Sun used to play point guard, but with the national team this season, he’s been at shooting guard with Liu Wei running the point very capably. During the Olympics, he averaged a pedestrian 6.8 points and 2.5 assists per game.
Sun’s been called the “Chinese Magic Johnson” in some Chinese media; don’t expect that nickname to stick in a city that knows exactly how Magic played. But even if he never develops into a starter, this second round draft pick should be able to sell a few jerseys on Wangfujing, and cement more Laker loyalty among the Kobe-loving Chinese market.
For a look at Sun’s pre-draft workout and video of him blocking Carmelo Anthony’s shot, check out his profile page on China Sports Today.