It’s New Year’s all over again for the Heat in Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers.
The Heat, who already played on Christmas and Jan. 1 this season, will take part in a league-wide observance of Chinese New Year’s. The game will be televised in China.
To help usher in the Year of the Dragon, fans arriving at AmericanAirlines Arena will be greeted by a Chinese New Year message, and courtside advertising will be in Mandarin for several sponsors, including Chinese companies Peak and Tsingtao beer, the latter a new Heat partner. Heat Dancers will incorporate Chinese dance into their routines.
Heat forward Shane Battier will tape a greeting that will air on Chinese television. Battier, who played with Yao Ming in Houston, has done promotional tours in China on behalf of Peak and other companies.
The NBA has been aggressively marketing its brand in China, now the league’s biggest market outside the United States, for a number of years, and NBA China has accelerated that since its launch in 2008. A visit by the Washington Wizards in 1979 gave the league a bridge to the orient.
Last season 1,300 NBA games were broadcast in China on TV, online and via mobile devices. According to NBA estimates, 300 million people in China play basketball – a hoop legion equal to the U.S. population.
"We have a great fan base in China, and some of our China staff came up with the idea as a way to recognize and engage our fans. Our partners were extremely excited about getting involved and they have shown tremendous support," NBA President of International Heidi Ueberroth said. "It is a program that we would certainly like to continue and expand upon in the coming years"
There will be 21 games broadcast in China this week in the league’s first Chinese New Year Celebration, which includes special programming with player greetings and features. The event will culminate with a fan viewing party in Beijing on Saturday (Jan 28), when four games will be broadcast in China including the Heat’s home game against the Knicks.
Photo: Dwyane Wade is one of many NBA stars who have promoted the NBA and various sponsors in China and become well-known to millions of basketball fans there. (Getty Images)