Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yi vs. Yao: The Global Good & Bad

Friday night marked a historic sporting event which may have had over 200 million witnesses, making it possibly the "most watched sports event" ever, according to ESPN's Sportscenter. The game was the Milwaukee Bucks visiting the Houston Rockets, meaning China's two NBA stars were facing off. It was the rookie Yi, vs the established veteran Yao, making it a contest of global proportions.

Yao got the better of the stats matchup and the Rockets won the game. Apparently fans in China were tuning in during early morning about 9AM or so there to check out the live game which was quite exciting for them. Globally this represents a great thing for the NBA, as it has attracted a very large foreign fan base. It's been the talk of NBA for several years now too, the global expansion and how more European players have started to take over. Cases in point are Germany's Dirk Nowitski, Canada's Steve Nash and Spain's Pau Gasol. Yao and Yi bring even more appeal on a foreign level with a large fan base coming from overseas.

The interesting thing will be to see if this will tarnish the All-Star game even more. While Yi is having a respectable rookie season (even better than Yao's), he is definitely not one of the top 5 players in the East and probably will not be (think KG, Bosh, O'Neal, etc). But with China's population and so many people rooting him on, you'd have to think he will get a lot of their votes come All-star time. Yao has definitely benefited from this and Yi will as well, possibly ousting a more deserving player from the East lineup.

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