Yao Ming advocates for sustainable development in Chinese basketball

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Yao Ming

25th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) At the GBA International Sports Business Summit on Friday, former basketball titan Yao Ming offered a candid perspective on the prospects of discovering another player of his stature. Yao, whose career has transitioned from the courts to the helm of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), provided a nuanced view of talent development within the sport.

The likelihood of witnessing the rise of another Yao Ming is not just improbable, it’s an expectation Yao himself dissuades. “People should not anticipate the advent of another individual like me,” Yao remarked, pointing to the singular confluence of factors that shaped his journey – a sports-oriented family, early discovery, and access to exclusive resources. He emphasised the uniqueness of his path, which he deems inimitable.

Yao expressed his preference for a replicable model, one that resonates more broadly with the general populace and doesn’t hinge on exceptional circumstances. He highlighted the importance of nurturing talent that reflects the everyday experiences of ordinary families, citing players like Zhao Jiwei and Guo Ailun as examples. “If more players emerge from such relatable backgrounds, it will not only raise the calibre of our basketball but also enhance the league’s quality and market,” Yao added.

Shifting the discourse to the societal impact of basketball, Yao underscored the sport’s integration into the fabric of everyday life. He likened sports to familial toys, enriching the home and providing a sense of belonging and connection for fans. Yao stressed that as administrators, the focus should be on the fan experience, ensuring that the league fosters a deep engagement with its audience.

In appraising the current state of Chinese basketball, Yao acknowledged its widespread popularity, citing the Village Basketball Competition of China and the proliferation of school basketball programs and professional teams. Nevertheless, he identified a need for the sport’s governing body to amplify its societal contributions.

With the approach of the CBA’s 30th anniversary in 2025, Yao called for a reflection on the league’s societal value. “The support from numerous companies is a testament to the contributions of generations,” Yao stated. He encouraged the CBA to offer more ‘social products’ to gain greater recognition and facilitate comprehensive development, including events and athlete training.