Timberwolves to Make First Trip to China for the NBA Global Games China 2017

Minneapolis/St. Paul – The National Basketball Association today announced that the NBA Global Games China 2017 presented by Master Kong will include two preseason games between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen to play in the NBA Global Games, a testament to the growing relevancy and popularity of the Timberwolves overseas,” said Timberwolves & Lynx CEO Ethan Casson. “The NBA is seeing remarkable growth in China and it’s great to have our players in front of their incredible basketball fans. This trip will continue to deepen our relationships and we’re confident will lead to even more opportunities for our franchise.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves that highlight the rapid growth of the Timberwolves presence in China. In May 2016, the Timberwolves became the first team of any major U.S. sports league to add a Chinese minority owner, Lizhang (John) Jiang. In recent years, Timberwolves players Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine have all made marketing trips to China as part of their shoe endorsements.  And, this past November, the team announced the addition of China-based TCL, the fastest growing TV brand in North America, as a Founding Partner. 

As the franchise has become more active on the business front, Timberwolves basketball has begun to take over the airwaves as well. This season, a total of 7 Timberwolves games are airing on China’s television network CCTV and 25 games will stream for free through Chinese media company Tencent. Tencent also launched League Pass digitally this year, a paid subscription giving fans in China access to watch every Timberwolves game.

The preseason games will take place on Oct. 5 in Shenzhen at the Shenzhen Universiade Center, followed by a rematch in Shanghai at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Oct. 8. These will be the franchise’s first games ever played in China and the first trip to Asia since the team played in Japan in 1999.

“It is a great privilege for me and my teammates to play in China for the first time in our franchise’s history,” said Karl-Anthony Towns. “When I visited last summer, I was amazed at the passion that Chinese fans have for the game of basketball. Traveling to China with my teammates and coaches will be a fantastic experience.”

A video with reactions from Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins can be found here.

About NBA China

The NBA’s entity that conducts all of the league’s businesses in Greater China was formed in January 2008 after its first office opened in Hong Kong in 1992.  The NBA has interacted with Chinese basketball for decades, including first hosting the Chinese National team in 1985.  The NBA currently has relationships with a strong network of television and digital media outlets in China, including a partnership of 30 years with national broadcaster CCTV.  The league hosts hundreds of touring basketball events for fans, conducts community enrichment programs, and maintains marketing partnerships with a combination of world-class China-based corporations and U.S.-based multinationals. 

NBA China is headquartered in Beijing and also has offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei.  NBA licensed products such as apparel and footwear are available through various retail networks and authorized online stores on e-commerce and social media platforms, including Tmall.com, JD.com and WeChat.  In 2004, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to play games in China, with two games between the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings in Shanghai and Beijing.  Following NBA Global Games China 2017, 14 NBA teams will have played 24 games in Greater China.