Battier Talks China, Sports Business
There is no secret that the sport of basketball is a critical aspect of the sports business growth strategy for China, and the NBA and its stars are front and center in that growth. A handful of NBA stars have clearly broken through in engagement in China, ranging from Stephon Marbury and Kobe Bryant to Dwayne Wade and Tracey McGrady. You also have the obvious ties to stars like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin who have much more than just a marketing tie to Asia and the growth of the sport they star or have starred, in.
Another of those breakthrough personalities from a marketing standpoint is now-retired NBA star Shane Battier. Battier has taken on a post-playing role an entrepreneur, especially in the digital space, following his retirement, and as a teammate of Yao in Houston, got to witness the explosion of basketball in China first hand. While not currently involved in Chinese sports business, Battier has had past endorsements, and looks to the future to see how and when he can engage again.
We caught up with Shane to talk about the business of China in sport, and his experiences.
ASIA SPORTS BUSINESS: You may be more popular in China than in the US, how did that come about?
SHANE BATTIER: After getting traded to the Houston Rockets in 2006, I was approached by Chinese shoe manufacturer Peak to be the first NBA player to wear their shoes. I toured China every summer for 10 years, since I was a teammate of Yao, my popularity rose fairly quickly in China.
ASB: As someone interested in things beyond basketball, how do you view the Asian marketplace today?
SB: The Asian marketplace is a fascinating place because everyone sees the potential for growth and efficiency due to the scale of the market. We have not seen the scale of this many people economically mobilize maybe since the Industrial Revolution.
ASB: What surprises you the most about business and sports in China, as an American?
SB: I was always surprised by the amount of knowledge and familiarity that the Chinese had for American sports. When I toured cities I in the middle of China, I was always met with enthusiastic NBA fans. China loves basketball!
ASB: Is it a market you see yourself doing more in in the coming years?
SB: I have always enjoyed my time in China. Any excuse to visit the country is an opportunity that I will take. I was able to present a speech last year and am trying to attend the China NBA games this year.
ASB: What differences have you seen in the American and Chinese marketplace as both an athlete and a businessperson?
SB: As an athlete and as a business person, I believe that the American marketplaces places more value on what could be or potential, while in China, the focus is much more on the present state.
ASB: Looking back, how impactful was Yao in leading change and awareness and how do you think that legacy can continue now that he is retired?
SB: Yao is the most important athletic figure in Chinese history because at his peak he was one of the most dominant players in a global game. His legacy will be felt for generations now that young Chinese athletes have a fellow countryman who rose to the top of his sport as popular as basketball. Yao used his platform for social good. He will continue to make China and the world, a better place.