Forget about snapping up cheap U.S. real estate–Kenneth Huang and his cash-rich Chinese partners are about to make history and change the game for the Cleveland Cavaliers by purchasing a stake in the NBA franchise.
As first reported by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a group of Chinese investors has reached a deal to buy a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers, pending league approval. The man behind the deal is Kenneth Huang (Huang Jianhua, or 黄健华). The best background reporting in English on Huang comes from the Plain Dealer, which says that Guangzhou-born Huang studied at Columbia University, St. John’s University and New York University, and gives this snapshot of his career in sports business:
“As a partner in Sportscorp China, which has a U.S. base in Chicago with well-known sports consultant Marc Ganis, Haung became a leading dealmaker with pro sports teams. He’s worked deals with the New York Yankees, the Houston Rockets and USA Basketball by creating deals with Chinese sponsors.”
If you’re a Cleveland Cavaliers fan who wants to see your team keep its superstar, this looks like great news. It doesn’t take much dot-connecting to understand that this deal could give James an excellent marketing platform in China, an opportunity that might be lucrative enough to keep him in Cleveland when his contract comes up in 2010.
In addition to some guanxi in whatever industries, cities and government department the new part owners operate in, he’d benefit from the intangible benefit of pride and interest that lots of Chinese fans will no doubt take in this ownership situation.
Kobe Bryant has had a pretty good lead on Lebron in popularity in China over the past year or two, but it seems this deal could help this year’s MVP squash that in a hurry. What could be cooler than Kobe and Lebron facing off in the NBA Finals this year? How about the league’s two biggest stars facing off in the Chinese market over the next 10 years? I’ll watch.
For more Chinese sports news, check out China Sports Today.