The NBA in Shanghai

25 Oct
NBA in Shanghai!

NBA in Shanghai!

A couple of weeks ago we went to an NBA pre-season game in Shanghai between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.  I had read about it on a website a long time ago and convinced Li to get tickets back in August.  They weren’t cheap – even far up the tickets were over $100 USD, but I figured for once in seven years – why not?

They held the game at Mercedes Benz Arena – the last time I was there was when I went to the Elton John concert a couple of years ago.  This time I realized that the Chinese name is actually Mercedes Benz cultural center (文化中心).  I suppose Elton John and basketball are cultural events – but it’s not a literal translation of arena – that’s for sure.

We got to the game a little early to make sure we were able to soak in the experience.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like – and I haven’t been to an NBA game in over 8 years, but it was pretty much like I remembered.

Li had a great time too!  We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Li had a great time too! We sat next to a father and son who spoke Spanish and English the entire time so I got to eavesdrop a little.

Our seats were great – we were right above one of the entrances so nobody was sitting in front of us and we had extra leg room which is always a plus.  I had a hot dog (seemed appropriate, though the chicken sandwiches appeared to be the more popular choices) and some popcorn and we enjoyed the dancers and people warming up the crowd.

Looking up above the big screen, I noticed that there were the Chinese and American flags at the top of the arena.  Basketball is fairly popular in China – Yao Ming is retired now, but he made an appearance court side and still caused a stir.  There were a couple of players who were definitely more well known than others who got huge rounds of applause.

A pair of flags - one in sport

A pair of flags – one in sport

It was obvious that some folks had never been to a western style sporting event before.  They had the “kiss camera” and the first several couples they zoomed in on seemed oblivious.  Finally one couple got the idea and the entire arena erupted into applause.

The game itself was high scoring with the lead changing constantly.  Players rotated throughout to get their minutes and things weren’t decided until the last two minutes or so – which meant everyone stayed until the end.  One highlight that occurred during the fourth quarter was that Shaquille O’Neal showed up as an ambassador for Meng Niu – which is a Chinese dairy company, in a cow print T-shirt to help judge a dance competition.  It was pretty funny and not something I think he would necessarily do in the US.

Enjoying the game

Enjoying the game

After the game was over we made our way slowly back to the subway.  I had never gone to an event there during the day, so we were treated to some nice views of Lujiazui across the river.  Development appears to be continuing in the area (which was the old 2010 World Expo site), but still not very much has happened, considering the Expo ended four year ago.  The Chinese pavilion still seems to be a big tourist draw – I have heard that it is a decent museum, so maybe one of these days we’ll go explore it.

We had a great time and am glad that we planned far enough ahead to enjoy it.  What was the last sporting event you went to?  Have you ever gone to a sporting event in another country where the culture is different?  Any fun stories?




7 Responses to “The NBA in Shanghai”

  1. CrazyChineseFamily October 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    These kind of events are pretty interesting. In Finland few NHL teams came to play games each year. The reason is first of all that ice hockey is national sport in Finland and secondly that many finnish players are in the NHL.
    Personally I never visited any such events, to be honest, I have never watched any sport event live except few swimming events, even though I am interested in sports but I prefer keeping my money in the pocket 🙂

    Anyways, in China you usually don’t see sports in your everyday life but once such events are being held it is full of spectators! I remember when I was participating in a small open water swimming event in xi’An and there were so many people, more people than all events combined I had been before (including European championships)

    • gkm2011 October 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Very true, the number of spectators at anything is always much higher in China. I wonder though how many people go to the Shanghai Sharks’ games.

      • CrazyChineseFamily October 25, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

        I bet is is a very low number. Each time I see a Chinese soccer match it appears that the stadium is nearly empty 🙂

  2. Karolyn Cooper October 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    I’ve had two recent experiences of sports events in other countries, and both were great. On a visit to Melbourne, I watched Australian Rules Football at the MCG. And living in India gave me the chance to see cricket in its fastest, glitziest form – the Indian Premier League. It felt great to be part of the crowd in both places, and I will forever take an interest in the results of Collingwood and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

    • gkm2011 October 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      Sounds like two really great matches. Following local teams really makes a difference. I remember many years ago trying to explain the rules of baseball to a friend from Spain, he became a Chicago Cubs fan. One day you will have to explain cricket to me!

  3. Every Day Adventures in Asia October 25, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen live and in person many sporting events. I think the last memorable one was the Montreal Canadiens in the old Forum… Yeah… that long ago…

    • gkm2011 October 26, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Everyone has different events that are at the top of their list! Seeing a game live is much more than the results – the atmosphere, the food, friends, doing the wave…. Haven’t seen a hockey game myself live in around 10 years!

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