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NBA GLOBAL GAMES MEDIA CONFERENCE


October 15, 2013


Yao Ming

Adam Silver

David Stern


DAVID STERN:  Thank you, everybody, for coming.  Thank you, Yao, for what you have meant to Chinese basketball and the NBA, and thank you to the CBA for its continued support.  This will be our seventh set of NBA games in China, and I look back fondly at our first NBA China games, where Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets played in 2004.
Interest in basketball has grown dramatically since then.¬† We have a long‑term partnership with CCTV with great viewership.¬† We have a huge digital presence, social media with Tencent and Sina, and 300 million people play basketball, which for us is an incredible number.
We're in the fourth year of a joint coaching program with the CBA, which has trained nearly 700 coaches, and we have the Dongguan Basketball School and NBA Training Center, which we established in 2011, and that has trained 1,200 youth players as the first NBA facility of its type anywhere in the world.
But the NBA Yao school that we are announcing today is really more about the next step, which is to have an after‑school program starting in February in Beijing, but the first of hopefully many that will allow kids, Chinese kids, to come to an after‑school program where they can develop their basketball skills and take advantage of the values that will be taught, as well:¬† Teamwork, exercise, fitness and communication amongst people.¬† And that was very important for Yao, and we've agreed to partner with him at his request in those schools.
Yao?
YAO MING:¬† Distinguished guests, media friends, everybody, I'm very happy and delighted to see everybody here, and today is definitely a special day for NBA Global Games in Beijing.¬† As we all know, the two top teams, the LA Lakers and Golden State Warriors, are going to be here to present some high‑class competition.
I'm also honored that I will actually do some new collaboration or cooperation with my old friends at the NBA.¬† Since last year, the NBA and I have reached a strategic partnership to help grow basketball and enhance social benefits and the coach foundation in China.¬† It has been my long‑time dream to positively impact the lives of youth through sports participation in China.
Since 2012, the Yao Foundation's Hope School basketball program has helped more than 67,000 children from the underdeveloped areas to get to know basketball and enjoy the fun from the sport.  As such, these youngsters have become more confident, and they have come to understand the spirit of competing and team work, and NBA obviously is part of this effort.
Basketball fans in China are passionate and eager to participate in the high standard basketball training program, and basketball has really given them a lot.  As a nation they actually understand through basketball the team spirit and also team fighting spirit and so forth, and teamwork.
I'd like to actually use this chance to actually grow the sport among the masses.  I certainly look forward to actually working on it and establishing a school as a trusted destination for basketball training for youngsters.  Through the school with some fun basketball environment, youngsters can not only enjoy the sport itself but also appreciate the importance of teamwork, leadership and communication and sheer determination, and also we hope to actually grow the sport of basketball and the spirit of competing and fighting.
I'm also excited to expand our partnership with the NBA and demonstrate our joint effort and commitment to the youth development in China.  Thank you.
ADAM SILVER:  I just want to echo what David and Yao said, and first of all, thank the CBA for their ongoing cooperation, and also thank Yao.  In addition to being such a wonderful ambassador of basketball here in China, he's become an ambassador of basketball throughout the world.
As I said earlier, Yao is too modest to put his name first in this partnership, but it really should be the Yao‑NBA School, because this was Yao's idea.¬† Yao Ming and his business partner who's here in the front row, Eric Chang, came to David Stern, to me, to David Shoemaker, the CEO of NBA China, and to Heidi Ueberroth, the head of NBA International, and said as part of our strategic partnership, this is something we should be doing together in China.
What Yao Ming told us is that increasingly China is doing a fabulous job at developing elite athletes and elite basketball players, but we collectively need to focus on the joy of the game of basketball, and as Yao said earlier, bring the game to the masses, ensure that there are opportunities for boys and girls of all ages and all skill levels to have an opportunity to play basketball.
And while we hope that China develops lots of more Yao Mings, many more elite players and I'm sure many more elite players will come as a result of these schools, that's not the purpose of these schools.  The purpose is, as Yao and David Stern said, to ensure that the youth of China enjoy the game of basketball and all the benefits that come from it.
The first one of these schools is developing literally across the street here in Beijing, but we hope that ultimately there will be many, many of these schools, not just in Beijing but in Shanghai and throughout the country.  Thank you very much for being here, and it's a privilege to be back in China.

Q.  Yao Ming, different from the usual, normal training camp, what is the difference or specialty of your Yao NBA School and also the meaning or the nuances of the school?
YAO MING:¬† I think the biggest difference is it's an after‑school program.¬† We don't have any intensive and condensed training as usually these sports centers would do, and also these after‑school training programs will be treated as a past time for youngsters.¬† This is a facility providing this kind of facility and treatment, and this kind of training and sport, I hope to actually make the students actually get their strong determination to deal with problems down the line such as actually team spirit and so forth, and no matter what, even if you don't play basketball down the line, these will probably help you when you move on.

Q.  Any particular plan or any particular desire that you would like to achieve down the line?
YAO MING:  Our plan is actually we're going to start enrollment starting at December the 1st and we'll do training next year between February and May.

Q.  Any particular areas that NBA and Yao Ming have been collaborating and cooperating in, and any particular shared goal that you have?
ADAM SILVER:  Our shared goal is to increase basketball participation throughout China, both boys and girls, and as we said earlier, not to focus just on elite players.  It's about the joy of the game, not just about winning competitions.  That's our shared goal.

Q.  Any other areas that you have cooperated with Yao Ming?
DAVID STERN:  Well, the Yao Ming charity game, the Yao Ming Foundation Hope Schools, and we have been supportive of Yao's efforts having to do with working to preserve our earth and environment, which is something that I know is very important to him and equally important to the people of China.
YAO MING:  The NBA also gave me my first job in the United States.  (Laughter.)

Q.  Do you have any specific plans to come back to Asia for a regular season game, or does all the focus right now seem to be on Europe and the regional connection in México?
DAVID STERN:  I think that's a great question for Commissioner Silver.
ADAM SILVER:  As you know, we've played regular season games in Asia in the past, but one of the benefits of playing preseason games here in China is that there's more time in the schedule for the players to be part of the community, to do charitable events, to conduct clinics, and to get to see the country and to get more knowledgeable about the culture here.
Our regular season is so tight in terms of number of games, that while we could do it logistically, it would mean a team coming in and playing and turning around and leaving right after the game.  As Yao well knows, it's a very tight schedule.  So while it's something we're going to continue to look at, we think there's much more benefit that comes from our partnership with the CBA, with Yao Ming and with the Chinese people by playing preseason games here.

Q.  So no specific plans?
ADAM SILVER:  No specific plans at this time.
DAVID STERN:  Interestingly, there's an intermediate step that Yao raised earlier with me, and that is the question of whether the NBA would consider modifying some of the start times of its games so that they would be more accessible to international audiences at a more convenient time for them to watch.  And I think that the NBA is going to have to wrestle over the next decade as more and more of our viewing audience is outside the United States, is what's the best time for games to be played so that those fans can enjoy them live as opposed to having to get up in China and watch an NBA game at 7:00 in the morning.  And I think that's a fun problem that we're going to be addressing because so much viewing is happening outside the United States now.

Q.  David, bringing the conversation to a player who's here tonight, what makes Kobe Bryant especially big here in China?
DAVID STERN:  Well, first of all, he's playing for the Lakers.  He's been playing for a very long time as our viewership and interest in our game has grown dramatically, and he has come to this country quite often and understands what it is to cultivate a fan base which totally understands that he has, shall I say, the heart of a champion.  His Chinese fans totally expect him beyond all odds to make a full recovery from his injury because they have come to have enormous confidence in his ability and his determination.
And I think that's because he's shown the ability and determination at different stages in his career to win, to play at his highest and to elevate his teammates.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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