Site still spreading the word in China
There are fans, and then there is Holick Lee.
How else to explain a man that would spend big money to buy a ticket to an NBA preseason game and then drive hundreds of miles to get to the game site a few days in advance without a place to stay?
But Holick, as you see, is not your ordinary fan. For the past decade, he has been the driving force behind ChinaPacers.com, the only site in that nation devoted exclusively to the Pacers.
July 20 marked the 10th anniversary of Holick's site, a labor of love for which he is to be congratulated. To mark the occasion, I asked Holick some questions about the overall impact of that trip on the Pacers' fan base in China and Taiwan.
Q. How has the Pacers' trip to China affected their popularity in your country?
A. The Pacers’ trip to China allows the fans here to know more what Pacers basketball is all about. Basketball fans here love Kobe, LeBron and Yao Ming. But when talking about the Pacers, many fans here would just recall Reggie Miller and the Auburn Hill Brawl.
But after the China games, they know the Pacers might not be a very athletic and talented team, but they play hard to win. Especially for the first game, that was the first NBA game in Taipei for decades, and the crowd really went wild for the Pacers’ shooting display.
Q. So many of the Pacers fans in China were drawn to the team by Reggie Miller's playoff heroics. Have they stuck by the team since Reggie's retirement?
A. Ninety-five percent of the fans here have been following the Pacers since Reggie Miller era. Being a fan of championship contender is easy, but being a lonely fan of a struggling team for a long time is another story. I guess those whom once claimed to be a fan of Michael Jordan here now might not know who Derrick Rose is and some of them might not even follow NBA any more.
But the Pacers fans here still stick to the team because they cherish his never-give-up spirit and loyalty to the Pacers. ChinaPacers.com being the legend in China, demonstrated the same value of the franchise.
Q. You were such a popular figure on our trip, getting to ride on the team bus and meeting most of the team. What was that experience like for you?
A. Before the Pacers China Game, I told myself "I want to become a friend of the Pacers, rather than just a fan." After all, players are just human, and they are no different than us.
Riding on the team bus, sitting on the courtside at the practice, greeting the players at the gala dinner, it was an experience that I will remember for life. But the most interesting part was to chatting with Pacers staff, Slick, Bruno, Mark Boyle, David Benner, Chris Denari, and even coach Burke. We should have done a Pacers Crate there!
Q. Please explain why you started ChinaPacers.com and anything else you'd like to say about your attachment to the team.
A. Back in 2000, sports media was not as informative as it was today. Especially in China, when you didn’t have enough fan base (fans here were following Lakers), the Chinese media would not cover Pacers in Chinese.
Me and Howard, the co-founder, thought that we can make a difference for the lonely Pacers fans here in our spare time. We wrote the first Pacers daily news in Chinese on July 20, 2000, when Isiah Thomas was named as the head coach of the Pacers. Since then, we have been non-stop.
Every day after work, we will glance through the news all over the Internet and then compose the relevant story in Chinese. It will take us around 1-2 hours per day. For the past 10 years, we have written 2,200 daily reports, and achieved over 1.1 million visits in total.
Today, as NBA news is spreading much faster than before, fans here might not have to wait for our in-depth Pacers news at midnight. So we launched our micro-blog edition of ChinaPacers.com (something like Twitter in the U.S.). We will post Pacers news any time and all fans are just as updated as being in Indy.
ChinaPacers.com will continue to be the home of Pacers fans in China. We hope when the Pacers get back on the right track, we will have more friends to jump on our bandwagon!