NBA Proves Impact in China with Jersey Sales

It’s amazing to see the in-roads the NBA has made in China in the past generation. The league has a perennial All-Star from the world’s biggest country, is part of a deal with AEG to open basketball arena’s across the country, and operates an immensely successful business unit in NBA China. However, the list of top selling jersey’s in China provides concrete evidence of just how successful the NBA’s initiative is.

Yao Ming, one of the most well-known people in the entire country, ranks 10th. That’s right, nine other NBA players sold more jersey’s last year than Yao. Forget revenue, a big part of the NBA’s barometer for success is impact. The Top 10 list, thanks to Darren Rovell, indicates the Chinese are not just Yao fans, not just basketball fans, but NBA fans.

Could it be that everyone already has a Yao jersey after five seasons in the league, and not other Chinese player has made an impact. Possible, but unlikely. Take one look at the crowd reaction to Kobe Bryant, more fanatical than he sees in most NBA cities.

With popularity rising fast and furiously, is it possible that player’s are actually underexposed in China? Could agents and marketing representatives be leaving endorsement money on the table overseas? Big endorsement money. Instead of flirting with $50 million contracts to play in Europe, players could expand their brand to the far east to earn that extra money.

Obviously shoe companies, like Nike and addidas are already global. Look past that, each country has wireless carriers, car companies, the fast food and soda companies all have international exposure. Why not capitalize on the merchandise success and create that global brand that Lebron discussed when he mentioned the merits of playing overseas. Just maybe he doesn’t have to play overseas to reap the benefits.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s pretty sad that China doesn’t have much interest in Yao Ming’s jersey but instead buy Kobe’s jersey more.

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