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grbh
04-25-2002, 12:54 PM
The Chinese Basketball Association is making a lot of rules for any potential Ming contract including forcing him to give back 50% of his earnings before taxes.

Article (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/25/sports/basketball/25HOOP.html)



Eyeing N.B.A., China Will Make Athletes Pay
By CRAIG S. SMITH with MIKE WISE

HANGHAI, April 24 China's star basketball player, 7-foot-5-inch Yao Ming, is coveted by National Basketball Association teams willing to pay him millions. But his path to wealth in the United States has been complicated by a Chinese government straining to retain control of its elite athletes.

Yao's team, the Shanghai Sharks, has said it will support his participation in the N.B.A. draft in June after blocking him in previous years. But Beijing has yet to approve any move by Yao, 22, who led his team to the China Basketball Association championship last week, and the government published strict new regulations today for Chinese athletes who want to play professionally abroad.

Chief among the new rules, clearly crafted with Yao in mind, is one requiring Chinese athletes abroad to turn over at least half their pretax earnings, including endorsement income, to Chinese government agencies for the length of their careers. That could cost Yao millions of dollars a year.

An agile player even at 7-5, Yao is widely expected to be among the top three draft picks. He runs the floor like a small forward, finds open teammates cutting to the basket, delivers a jump hook flawlessly and shoots 80 percent from the free throw line, a number Shaquille O'Neal can only envy.

Yao's case reflects the tension China is feeling as one of the last major authoritarian states trying to participate in a world dominated by more open societies. With its recently minted membership in the World Trade Organization and its winning bid to be host to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, China is eager to be seen as a modern nation able to play in all the world's arenas. At the same time, it is reluctant to give up too much of its rigid control at home.

China has already allowed two of its lesser basketball stars go to the N.B.A., and the new rules will apply to them, too, although it is not clear whether the rules would be retroactive. Yao will be the first Chinese athlete to pursue a multimillion-dollar career overseas. He will be a test case for China's decision to let its elite athletes play abroad while keeping them on a tether by which it can tap their earning power and recall them at will to play on national teams in international competitions.

"Chinese athletes are different from those in the U.S.," said the Shanghai Sharks' deputy general manager, Li Yaomin, explaining that because China's athletes are trained in a government-sponsored system, they are beholden to the state. "American athletes are free."

The news of Yao's latest potential hurdle to play in the United States caught the league and the players' union off guard.

"From our end, that's something that would be between him and the government," Russ Granik, the league's deputy commissioner, said, adding that he was unaware of any similar arrangements between China and the two current Chinese players, Wang Zhizhi of Dallas and Mengke Bateer of Denver.

Asked if he foresaw the Chinese government's new rules as hindering Yao's draft status, Granik added, "I'm assuming they don't want it to be a problem and they'd like to have him play."

China's regulations, announced in the country's newspapers today, reportedly stunned Yao and his family, who have been waiting years to realize his dream of playing in the National Basketball Association. As a top draft pick, Yao could earn as much as $12 million from his first three-year contract with a North American team and millions more in endorsements.

Yao declined a request for an interview. In The Shanghai Morning Post today he was quoted as saying, "I have endured so much frustration, a little more won't beat me."

Yao was born to two Shanghai basketball players whose own careers were hobbled by the Cultural Revolution. They enrolled their only son in a government sports school when he was 9, and he has been living and breathing basketball since.

By the time he was 14, Yao was already "a crane towering over a flock of chickens," as one local newspaper put it. His family knocked out lintels above the doors in their apartment so he would not hit his head.

Today, he wears size 18 shoes and has a jaw that looks as if it could crunch walnuts between his teeth.

Still, during a telephone call this week, Yao's father, Yao Zhiyuan, contended: "He's an ordinary kid. He just has inborn qualities."

After Yao Ming joined the Shanghai Sharks in 1997 as one of its founding players, his speed and agility together with his unusual height quickly put him on the international radar screen.

Often, big men from developing basketball countries feature rough-hewn skills and a measure of awkwardness, but Yao is an exception. The main complaint against him is that he does not have the upper-body strength to go against aggressive centers in the N.B.A. Most general managers feel that two years of weight training and constant competition among the game's elite players during the summer leagues and the regular season will transform him into an All-Star within three years. In a league sorely lacking true centers, Yao is viewed as the class of the next generation.

His talents have made Yao one of China's few nationally recognized athletes, attracting sponsors like Nike and now Adidas, and making Shanghai a regular stop for basketball talent scouts. General Manager Scott Layden of the Knicks recently traveled to China to see Yao play.

But until this year, China refused to allow him to enter the N.B.A. draft, in part because he was the most valuable player on his team and, together with Wang and Bateer, drew attention to the fledgling China Basketball Association, the country's quasi-professional, government-sponsored league.

The country has softened its stance after the three players won international recognition as the Walking Wall of China at the 2000 Olympics and in the wake of its own winning bid to play host to the Summer Games in Beijing. Last year, it allowed Wang to go to Dallas Mavericks, which had drafted him as a second-round choice in 1999. Bateer signed with the Denver Nuggets this year.

The Shanghai Sharks' deputy general manager, Li, said that Yao did not want to work with any American agent and that a family member in the United States, Zhang Mingji, would represent Yao there. Li said the Sharks would continue to represent Yao in China, although the new government regulations also require him to hire a Chinese agent registered with the China Basketball Association.

Li will accompany Yao on Monday to Chicago, where he will undergo a physical examination required for the N.B.A. draft. Yao will spend a week meeting interested team officials before returning to China to start training with the national team for the 14th Asian Games, which will be held this fall in South Korea.

While Yao will most certainly be drafted in June, his American adventure is still far from certain. Under the new rules, he may not leave the country until any potential contract is approved by the Shanghai Sharks, the local sports bureau, the registered Chinese agent and the China Basketball Association.

The regulations say that the association will get 30 percent of any money he earns, while 10 percent will go to the central government's State Sports Administration and another 10 percent will go to the Shanghai government.

The remaining half will be split between Yao, his team, his coaches and his registered agent, after which Yao will have to pay taxes.

If Yao refuses to abide by the rules, the penalties are dire, including unspecified fines, expulsion from China's national team and an attempt by China to invalidate all contracts signed by Yao overseas.

Reached in Northern California by telephone, Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players' union, took issue with the new rules.

"What makes the Chinese government any different than an agent, who is only entitled to 4 percent?" Hunter said. "If they are saying he's going to come on the condition that he sends half his money back, well, we would not recognize any written agreement to that effect. That does not work with the rules of the collective bargaining agreement."

But Hunter conceded that if Yao were to give someone his money "after he has received it, that's on him."

Hunter said recent business dealings between the league and China and the gradual buildup for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing serve as "significant factors in making sure his entrance to the N.B.A. goes as smoothly as possible."

Beyond the issue of any N.B.A. contract, there is little doubt about the pressure China could bring to bear on any companies that want Yao to endorse their products.

China has already demonstrated its ability to force companies to drop endorsements by people it does not like. The Coca-Cola Company stopped using a Taiwanese pop star in its mainland advertising two years ago after she provoked an uproar by singing Taiwan's anthem at the inauguration of the island's president. China claims Taiwan as one of its provinces and objects to any suggestion that it is an independent nation.

In what appeared to be a veiled warning to N.B.A. teams, today's newspapers also carried a brief editorial stating that FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, of which both the China Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association are members, has the power to cancel contracts between players and N.B.A. teams.

DTL
04-25-2002, 01:04 PM
I wonder how far the Chinese government can keep doing assinine things like this before players like Yao Ming decide to immigrate eventually.

grbh
04-25-2002, 01:10 PM
I was thinking the same thing. I guess the only problem is leaving family behind. I would be concerned about the well being of my family if I told China to F off. Sure you could probably get parents and sibblings out, but what about the extended family.

Regardless China is treading on thin ice here. They don't want their players to leave, but they want Chinese basketball in the spotlight. They also want to maximize their profit without the embarrassment of it's basketball citizens to emmigrate.

Dooby
04-25-2002, 02:47 PM
I was afraid of this. This is why Yao won't go no. 1. If China doesn't like the way a team uses him his rookie year, there is nothing to stop them from keeping him in China the next season. At least with Wang, our risk is non-existent: a second round pick and minimal cash.

Seriously, did anybody think it was Wang that wanted to go back to China to play in their league? Regardless of whether he wanted to or not, he was compelled to by his government.

This article also contains further proof that Billy Hunter is a moron. If he doesn't understand the difference between a sovereign nation and a shuckster in a bad suit promising a high-school junior a car if he declares for the draft, then the NBA should be able to get an even more lop-sided CBA next time.

Oh, and what happens if one of theses guys does emigrate to the USA? All I will say is that I will feel sorry for that player's family.

Hoopsmeister
04-25-2002, 03:14 PM
<< Oh, and what happens if one of theses guys does emigrate to the USA? All I will say is that I will feel sorry for that player's family. >>



If one emigrates (defects), it slams the door for all the others.

MFFL
04-25-2002, 03:44 PM
<< Oh, and what happens if one of theses guys does emigrate to the USA? All I will say is that I will feel sorry for that player's family. >>



China is a communist country with very limited respect for human rights. A defector's family might even be imprisoned for that.

Dooby
04-25-2002, 04:02 PM
Do you guys know what a rhetorical question is?

Don't answer that!!!

MFFL
04-25-2002, 04:19 PM
<< Do you guys know what a rhetorical question is? >>



Yes



<< Don't answer that!!! >>



TOO LATE! i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif

Hoopsmeister
04-25-2002, 04:22 PM
Yes I do Doobie :-) I was simply using your quote as a basis on which to add another thought. That if, for example, Wang were to 'emigrate' this summer, Ming would not be coming this fall.

DTL
04-25-2002, 04:22 PM
No way the Chinese government would bother with imprisoning any defecting sports superstar's family these days. Too many other things to worry about.

Dooby
04-25-2002, 04:28 PM
You are fooling yourself, this is the country that takes its prisoners out, shoots them and sells their organs.

They imprison people for as much every day.

Also, don't forget that, technically, both Wang and Yao are soldiers in the Chinese Army. If they defect to the USA, provided the USA even offers asylum, which is a question, they have left the army as well.

MFFL
04-25-2002, 04:32 PM
<< No way the Chinese government would bother with imprisoning any defecting sports superstar's family these days. Too many other things to worry about. >>



They would react and they would react in an agressive fashion. The Chinese government will not allow an individual to stand up to them in that way - it would cause conflict among the populace. It also violates every principle of the communist party.

If you want to be horrified some time then look up what happened to the family/friends of various defectors from Russia (during the communist regime). And the Russian government was nowhere near as horrible as the Chinese.

Drbio
04-25-2002, 07:22 PM
DTL- you are incorrect. The Chinese government has and will imprison anyone that contributes in any way. Not just the family, but friends, suspected friends...anyone. It's sad and the Chinese government doesn't give a flip about perception from the international community.

DTL
04-25-2002, 09:16 PM
Doc -- Just speaking as someone who has spent good part of a decade studying China and has lived and traveled extensively in China. The Chinese government does do many bone-headed, not to mention atrocious, things and does have a horrendous human rights record, but the situation over there is a lot more complex than what many people here tend to believe. And with so many things -- a growing AIDS crisis, Taiwan edging closer to formal independence, worsening water shortage in North China, booming rural migration into the cities, increasing waves of worker protest, etc -- weighing heavy on the Chinese leaders' mind with no easy solution in sight, one or a couple of athletes choosing to emigrate simply cannot seem that big a deal.

I think what's going on is more likely this: the responsible Chinese agencies (I'd think it's the Sports Administration along with the CBA) simply have no clue what's a good percentage to take of the perceived (and quite real, by Chinese standards) huge fortunes Chinese athletes like Yao Ming will be able to make overseas. There's not even a well-established tax system for the Chinese living in China, and who knows how those bureaucrats came up with the proposed &quot;at-least-50%&quot; rule. In today's China, simple greed explains a lot more things than any ideological or political motivations (such as trying to &quot;retain control of its elite athlethes&quot;, as suggested by the NYT reporter).

BTW, I'm from Taiwan, am a naturalized American citizen, and have absolute no sympathy for the Chinese Communist regime.

DTL
04-25-2002, 09:50 PM
Another take. From AP wire on the same topic:



<< Under regulations issued by the China Basketball Association, Yao would be forced to turn over half his income to his government and sports authorities. >>



I just take this to mean: &quot;Under new laws passed by the Chinese government, Yao would be required to pay more than 50% of his overseas income in taxes.&quot; CBA is a quasi-government organization, and asking for hefty taxes on large incomes is no strange thing in many countries.

DTL
04-25-2002, 10:14 PM
From the largest Chinese sports weekly (sorry, a very rough translation): &quot;Link) (http://sports.tom.com/Archive/2002/4/26-38768.html)



<< [i]A policy shortcoming of the CBA or the Chinese sports authorities has been magnified by the prospect of a potential super contract. Yao Ming is going to NBA, and he is likely going to receive a contract worth more than 120 million RMB. At this point, the CBA promulgated its policies on players going overseas and Yao Ming will have to pay a &quot;development fee&quot; worth 50% of his contract, a fee that will be &quot;shared&quot; by the Sports Administration, CBA, and his Chinese club.

As a veteran basketball writer calls it, &quot;Isn't this simply robbery?&quot;

The CBA's new regulations do seem like robbery. The country nurtured and developed Yao Ming, and Yao Ming will pay taxes to repay China. The CBA and Yao Ming don't owe each other anything. Yao Ming popularized the CBA games, attracted more people to basketball in China, and who is there to pay a &quot;popularization fee&quot; to Yao Ming?

When the State Sports Commisson came up with the policy of &quot;development fee,&quot; that was back in the days of the planned economy and there was no huge contracts of hundreds of millions of RMB. Now basketball has gone professional with the CBA and China has joined the WTO, one can only hurt oneself by still applying the thinking of the planned economy era. In fact the New York Times has already published a long article criticizing the Chinese government of trying to control its players.

Today the CBA is trying to apply an out-of-date policy, but it is clearly not something that conforms to international norms. If we're to collect &quot;development fees,&quot; on the eve of Yao Ming's going to NBA, there's going to be a long line at his door. The old woman selling breakfast at the end of the street will tell him, &quot;Ming, several years ago, when you came to buy breakfast, I almost didn't give you the extra rice porridge. Now you've made it, shouldn't I get a share, too?&quot;

Drbio
04-25-2002, 10:46 PM
DTL- those are really good points and really good articles. Thank you.

Drbio
04-25-2002, 10:47 PM
BTW, I hope you realize that I support those players...not the parasites that are preying on their salaries.

DTL
04-25-2002, 10:56 PM
<< BTW, I hope you realize that I support those players...not the parasites that are preying on their salaries. >>



Of course, Doc. Same here. I'd love to see Wang become the next Dirk (however unlikely) and Ming *not* to become the next Bradley (much more likely, the *not* part).

Drbio
04-25-2002, 11:00 PM
I wonder if this issue will cause the other NBA teams to be so wary that Yao Ming might fall in the draft to the Mavs somehow. Stranger things have happened.

Hoopsmeister
04-26-2002, 12:01 AM
<< I wonder if this issue will cause the other NBA teams to be so wary that Yao Ming might fall in the draft to the Mavs somehow. Stranger things have happened. >>



He'd have to fall pretty far. The Mavs only draft pick this year is no. 55. Think anyone would take Bradley so we could move up?

Drbio
04-26-2002, 12:03 AM
I meant by a trade or somesuch. I'm not holding my breath of course.

Hoopsmeister
04-26-2002, 12:18 AM
I know, doc, but that was part of why I mentioned Bradley. Who do we want to trade that would get us high enough? As someone just said on the Van Exel thread 'If its not broke don't fix it.' we have a team put together very well in terms of first string and role-players leaving only a few players I might consider trading to move up on a risk.

DTL
04-26-2002, 12:42 AM
I just somehow have this weird feeling that David Stern would love to see Yao Ming play for the Knicks. Just a hunch.

Drbio
04-26-2002, 08:25 AM
DTL _ UGH!



Hoops- I wouldn't trade any of our &quot;Big 5&quot;. I'd rather stand pat that do that. I don't think anything else that we could offer would really get it done. But it's nice to think about.