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November 02, 2006

Do You Know Air Canada?

Posted in: Asia,Sports

Since it’s opening week for the NBA, I figured it might be time to revisit a recent trip to China from a slightly different perspective. You see, as far as I could tell, the Chinese are super NBA crazy (even during the off-season, even during the world cup) but the league is a bit different seen through their eyes.

Take, for instance, the Vince Carter shirt above. The guy’s got a massive fro (Vince is bald) and it doesn’t look particularly like Vince in any other regard, either. “Do You Know Air Canada?” Whoever designed this shirt sure didn’t. (Did I mention that Vince plays for New Jersey now?) But that doesn’t take away from the sheer exuberance for the sport it captures. Heck, I nearly bought it.

There are lots of similar examples and, surprisingly, most feature Vince — his jerseys were running at about 60% of all basketball jerseys I saw. (Where’s the love for Yao?)

Still, there’s the odd non-Vince player every once in a while. Take, for instance, this Wandanu ad I saw in Shanghai. Sporting an Orlando Magic jersey, it could be an endorsement at first sight…but that all falls apart on closer inspection. First off, that isn’t any NBA player I know. Second, isn’t his head a bit too big for his body? Third, doesn’t that logo look suspiciously like the Adidas logo? Fourth, the URL goes to a spam page. Fifth, boy do I wish I had a translation for the Chinese! The shoes still sell off the shelves, though. And that kind of blind enthusiasm is one more reason I love China.

Of course, many Chinese are really quite NBA savvy. It was great fun, though, to be in a place where they love the league so much but sometimes, well, don’t quite understand it.

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