Something to strive for – the pioneers of Chinese hockey rub shoulders with basketball’s All-Stars

Source: Club Press-Office


Our LeSport Center home swapped fast ice action for big air at the weekend as the Chinese Basketball Association staged its All-Star Game. Kunlun Red Star was part of the grand event, with club president Emma Liao Zhiyu, forward Sean Collins and local favorite Zach Yuen invited as guests of honor as two of the fastest-growing sports in China took the chance to get to know more about one another.

Basketball is a sport that is attracting a fast-growing following throughout China, and many of those fans are also starting to take a keen interest in hockey. Sean and Zach were kept busy throughout the day, meeting and greeting fans, giving interviews for TV and taking part in a Q&A session on social media. They told an eager audience about themselves, their life in hockey and their interest in basketball in North America; there was plenty to talk about.

The event, which comes a couple of weeks before Kunlun’s own Chad Rau heads to Ufa to take part in the KHL’s All-Star Game, left a deep impression on everyone connected with the hockey club. Like any good showcase, the proceedings were set up at the highest level – from superlative high-tech pre-game entertainment and exciting competitions for fans to high-class action on the parquet. No less impressive was the sight of 18,000 people in the arena.

“That’s what we need to achieve,” said Sean, visibly impressed.
“Give it time, we’ll get there,” Zach replied with quiet determination.

The story of Chinese basketball shows what can be achieved over time. It’s not so long ago that the country’s fledgling league took its first steps, seeking to promote an unfamiliar game to the Chinese public. Back then, things weren’t quite the way they are now, but the current season is the 22nd in the tournament’s history and the game has come a long way in that time. Hopefully hockey can learn from that experience, and emulate it in the years to come.

The change of elements – from ice to air – is only temporary, though. Even as the stars of slam-dunk strutted their stuff, our ice pad was still in place beneath a heat-resistant protective layer. As the arena emptied, work was already underway to peel back the temporary floor and expose our pristine ice, ready for a further duel of stick and puck. And not a moment too soon – Monday sees the start of a tough run of five games in eight days here in Beijing, beginning with back-to-back games against Dynamo Moscow and Vityaz Podolsk, the last two teams to meet Kunlun this season. After enjoying a day with one group of All-Stars, it’s time once again to put on a show of our own with vital league points at stake.