Brooklyn Nets Players Looking Forward to China Games
Franchise continues to embrace international play
The Brooklyn Nets will be returning to China this fall for a series of preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the NBA China Games 2019, the 13th edition of the series.
The Nets will play the Lakers Thursday, Oct. 10 in Shanghai, and Saturday, Oct. 12 in Shenzhen. This will be the franchise's third time participating in the NBA China Games, which were first played in 2004.
In 2010, the Nets faced the Houston Rockets in a series that visited Beijing and Guangzhou, and in 2014 they played a pair against the Sacramento Kings in Beijing and Shanghai.
"I'm excited about it," said Nets guard/forward Joe Harris. "Any time you can take a foreign trip as a team, it's always a great experience. I think back even to our trip to Mexico City last year, it was a lot of fun. Just going someplace different, experiencing different culture."
The Nets played two regular season games in Mexico City last season against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, and faced the Atlanta Hawks in London in 2014. Their previous regular season international games include pairs against the Toronto Raptors in London in 2011, and the Orlando Magic in Tokyo in 1996. The set in London in 2011 were the NBA's first regular season games played in Europe.
The franchise has also visited France, Italy and Israel for preseason games.
"Anytime you're traveling with the NBA, it's going to be an elite travel experience," said Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. "They're going to make sure everything's checked out. They're going to make sure it's as secure as possible, as nice as possible, all those things. That's part of being a part of one of if not the best businesses in the world. I'm very thankful for that."
Yi Jianlian, one of six Chinese players to appear in the NBA, played two seasons for the Nets from 2008 to 2010, averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds over 113 games. One of the most popular American players of Chinese descent, Jeremy Lin, played for Brooklyn from 2016-18. Lin's parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan.
Brooklyn's minority owner, Joe Tsai, is a native of Taiwan and co-founder and executive vice-chairman of Alibaba Group. Last year Tsai purchased 49 percent of the franchise from majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
In addition to traveling to Mexico with the Nets, Harris went to Brazil with the Cleveland Cavaliers for their preseason game in Rio de Janeiro in 2014. This will be his first trip to Asia, but he's heard plenty from fellow players about the growing NBA fan base in China.
"Everybody just comes back raving about the fans and how passionate they are about the game," said Harris. "That's what I'm most excited about, just being able to experience that first-hand."
Basketball participation in China numbers over 300 million, and the NBA is at the forefront of professional sports there with 150 million social media followers. China represents the NBA'S No. 1 international market for merchandise sales.
Dinwiddie visited China last summer to participate in a camp and charity basketball game with Jeremy Lin, making stops in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macau and others.
"They're a very passionate group," said Dinwiddie. "They're really entrenched and look favorably on the thought process of work and effort. They identify with a lot of NBA players in that sense, because we obviously work hard. We have pretty much a 365-day job. They're just very passionate. And they love hoop out there and they play and all that stuff, so I think it's a match made in heaven."