Friday, September 22, 2006

AsiaBasket and Arthur Volbert

I am usually in agreement with Arthur Volbert about everything in Chinese basketball, but in this case, I am afraid that I directly disagree with what he said. On the main page of AsiaBasket, he said that he agreed "with the CBA, not Yao" about the CBA's schedule change.

He said a lot of things, but the main things were:

If the proper competition and training is provided this will indeed help the effort to get an Olympic Medal. Winning a medal in 2008 would be the best thing that could happen to the CBA.

Yes, it is important to find good opponents for overseas play. But the Chinese can offer marketing incentives for European teams to play them, even exhibitions played during the season with teams out of title contention.

Even inferior first division European teams use the European style of play. Playing against these teams will give China's best players experience in playing the more intense, physical style of international play.

Sending several teams to Europe will help show China which players are best in the international style. There may be some surprises and players might rise to National Team status who might otherwise be overlooked in favor of players better at the less physical Chinese style.

His main reasons for supporting the change was that even if the Euro leagues would be in full swing, China could offer "marketing incentives" to teams that were "out of title contention." I think that's, to be honest, a rather silly idea. No team would schedule an exhibition mid-season, even with "incentives" as part of the deal. Even if the Hawks or Knicks were out of the playoff race, they would still play all of the 82 games, and not schedule an extra game, "marketing incentives" and all. National teams, of course, would be out of the question, as each player would be on a different team, and no sane coach would allow his player to leave to play against China, barely a top-10 team in the world. Probably the only teams China would be able to play against would be some sort of junior national team, or Asian teams, neither of which would be really challenging. Plain, boring old drills certainly aren't any good for the team, as the players have been doing those all their lives.

And one thing I think Volbert failed to justify is the more practical aspect of it, something which Yao pointed out specifically.

The change is a setback for the 11-year-old league, which has made rapid improvement over the past two seasons. CBA has established a good image among the fans. I think many of them will be disappointed.

When a league is not well protected by long and stable rules, the sponsors will be at a loss as how to get the gain from their investment.

It is for sure that their interests have suffered a blow. A league can not progress smoothly without sponsors' involvement.

A good league won't, can't change so suddenly. That's what the CBA did, and it's a jolt to fans, players, and sponsors alike. As a still fledging league, a decline in popularity (which is what this will bring) could be very detrimental.

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