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Is the CBA or any smaller foreign leagues a better choice than the NCAA for NBA prospects?

By Joe Edwards
Houston Rockets Yao Ming, (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Yao Ming, (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
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The CBA has the potential to be the most dynamic, exciting, and yet undervalued source of minor-league players for the NBA. The relationship between the CBA in the NBA is extensive not only for young players, yet for retiring legends as well.

From Allen Iverson to Stephon Marbury, Gilbert Arenas to Steve Francis and many more NBA legends concluded their careers in Asian countries. However, in the near future, many more young NBA player’s careers will be birthed in Asian countries rather than retired.

Yao Ming is by far the biggest ambassador for American basketball in Asian countries overseas. His value as a player has transcended into an owner, activist, and entity of itself representing a foreign relationship that many modern-day NBA analyst undervalue. Don’t let the infamous vaseline eating Stephon Marbury, and the autobiographical musical/play that he stars in, deter you from the true talent and progressive opportunities offered by the Chinese Basketball Association as a whole.

Yao also appeared at a second press conference on December 18 where he urged China to say no to shark fin soup to stop the overfishing of some species amid growing demand for the delicacy. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Yao also appeared at a second press conference on December 18 where he urged China to say no to shark fin soup to stop the overfishing of some species amid growing demand for the delicacy. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

I believe there will be a growing interest in alternative options other than the NCAA for the demographic of talented high school basketball players in the future. Although prime example, LaVar Ball’s newly established Junior Basketball Association has not come across as a potentially lucrative and successful alternative league leading to the NBA; it almost still seems undoubtedly true that the NCAA has too many voids offered towards young athletes to fill and fulfill their every day human lives.

However, the Chinese Basketball Association and many alternative foreign basketball leagues may potentially offer just as good of a quality fundamental progression as the NCAA coaching systems possess while simultaneously paying players and exposing them to exercises in media and foreign relations.

It almost seems clear-cut in 2018 that the young man or woman trying to provide for their family should accept a paid year abroad as opposed to a “one and done”  deal in the NCAA basketball system. Regardless of the immediate cultural differences posed to young players in China, the CBA has an extensive history of progressing American players in a positive direction with the conclusive standard being to play NBA quality basketball.

Although there is a stagnancy or a sense of “fading away” associated with players who choose to take a role in foreign basketball leagues, many have created landmark career statuses in foreign leagues.

Why has Stephon Marbury been so successful in Beijing yet seemingly had no place on an NBA roster? Why has Jimmer Fredette continued to play great consistent basketball in Shanghai yet also see trouble finding a place on an NBA roster?

Although these questions remain unanswered; they also may be the answers themselves to why many players continue to take the NCAA route rather than a year or two progressing within a foreign league. The potential held in choosing to play a year in a foreign league as opposed to the NCAA before going to the NBA as a young player carries extremely great potential success, yet also carries the equally great liability of fading into “basketball abyss.”

Amongst all these questions it seems that within the next 5 to 10 years the N.B.A might see a drastic change with the source of talented and fundamentally educated rookies changing from common NCAA schools to the likes of Chinese basketball teams and other successful foreign associations.

(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A recent YouTube video cited by my professor re-invigorated my interest in the relationship between Chinese and American pro basketball Associations. My graduate level “Animals: and Political Rights” class celebrated the efforts of Yao Ming in the deterrent efforts of shark fin soup consumption (Smart cause to be chosen by the “Shanghai Sharks” ambassador, procuring animal rights while sustaining positive basketball publicity).

While hearing this lecture the simultaneous pride of being an animal rights supporter as well as Houston Rockets fan rose within me dramatically. Not only are the Shanghai sharks my favorite exhibition team to see every preseason ($6 lower bowl tickets, by the way, makes a fun, adorable “date night”) yet they illustrate the importance of foreign exhibition games in more ways than one.

The value of having an international ambassador met with the impact of an animal rights activist highlight the spectrum of true global growth that NBA players have. Your career does not end in retirement, not bankruptcy; and the CBA very well may be the league that shows us that overridden NBA prospects and Retiring NBA legends both collectively benefit from playing hard in China as oppose to fading in America.

In the meantime, the NCAA continuously can’t pay young players a dime, and the NBA throws absolute legends to the gutter once they become injured or invaluable after decades of investment. These details are a conglomerate of reasons contributing to the growth of the CBA and foreign leagues internationally. If a reader genuinely believes the CBA is boring, then please just cite the “Donnie Does” video series highlighting the importance of the Shanghai Shark “Shark Tank,” and it’s cultural importance.

An estimated percentage of at least 60 percent of NBA players are financially bankrupt within two years of retirement; this highlights an immediate need for player education of financial stressors and an elongation lesson of NBA player financial resources.

A preemptive education to those stressors and liabilities very well may be present in most foreign basketball leagues before entering the NBA draft. Regardless, I don’t see the lack of progression from Liangelo Ball alone potentially corrupting the structure of J.B.A or even to be a deterrent from future young players choosing foreign basketball leagues such as the CBA over a “one and done” year in the NCAA where they don’t get paid a dollar.

Some reading this article may be questioning the void of mentioning the G-League; a paid pseudo-minor league of the NBA. Although the G-League presents many resources for progression, it also has a somewhat “sunken place” association with current players.

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If an 18-year-old blue chip player from the inner city wants to start making money for their family, they can potentially go to a foreign league and make that money in that specific year before entering the draft. However redundant, that foreign option simply may change the structure of the NCAA or NBA draft forever throughout the future.

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