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The Brooklyn Nets and the opportunity of China

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Lintao Zhang

The New York Times and the Altantic Yards (& Pacific Park) Reporr presented two very different pictures this week of the opportunities a trip to China provided the Brooklyn Nets.

The Times story, written by Becky Davis in Beijing, dealt mostly with "basketball diplomacy," how the popularity of the NBA in China "transcends national lines ... one bastion of American capitalism and culture that no one is shy about supporting."

The AYR reported, on the other hand, presented the trip as a tawdry attempt to lure more Chinese nationals into investing $500,000 each in Atlantic Yards in return for green cards. Norman Oder, the critic and chronicler of the Atlantic Yards project, noted that Bruce Ratner enlisted at least one current Nets player in his pitch, calling the whole thing a "cynical and deceptive activity."

Davis quoted Brett Yormark on the value of China, "For anyone that wants to go global, you have to be relevant in China," noting that the Nets will soon announce new sponsorship deals with Chinese businesses. "They see us as the bridge from Beijing to Brooklyn," he said.

Davis also noted that China is not just important to the Nets, but to the NBA.

The N.B.A. averages five million viewers a game in China for its television broadcasts, three million more than for its cable broadcasts in the United States last year. The league has 80 million followers on its Chinese social media accounts.

Oder, on the other hand, shows how Bruce Ratner and his Chinese partner in Atlantic Yards used the Nets visit to push their agenda of getting even more Chinese financing for the massive real estate project, showing how players, current ant past, were used in the promotional material.

He quotes an immigration lawyer...

One immigration lawyer has decried a "pandemic of hype-driven EB-5 marketing," particularly in China. The promotion for "Atlantic Yards III" sure qualifies, where a not-so-savvy audience can be seduced by the glamor of an arena and the NBA.

Bottom line is this: the trip to China was about business as well as basketball.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News examines the possibility that a Chinese entity could buy an NBA team in the next decade.