Tom Fearon

Professional communicator in Canberra

CBA Dynasties Hurt Basketball

Mar. 24, 2013

By Tom Fearon

The Beijing Ducks' quest for back-to-back Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) championships ended in heartbreak after they were recently defeated 3-0 by Shandong Gold in the league's best-of-five semifinals.

But true CBA fans should be heartened that Shandong, a team that has never won a title in its 18-year history, are on the verge of reshaping the league's landscape.

The CBA has turned into a league of dynasties, where teams that triumph have historically proven difficult to dethrone. Teams winning the competition for three, four or even six consecutive years have threatened to turn the league into a boring farce.

Since the CBA tipped off in 1995, only four of the competition's 17 teams have ever won titles. With no draft system like the NBA or player salary cap regime to give weaker teams a fighting chance against the small handful of heavyweight clubs, the CBA has spiraled over the past decade into a two- or three-horse race.

There's nothing wrong with basketball dynasties, particularly when reflecting on the feats of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls during the 1990s or the seven NBA championships won by Los Angeles Lakers during 2000-10.

But why is it so difficult to get behind the CBA's powerhouse teams? Is there a suspicious match-fixing hangover from the country's football league? Or should fans be more patient given the competition is still in its relative infancy?

The Bayi Rockets, who hold a record eight titles, had a stranglehold on the league before the army-owned team's policy of not recruiting foreign players came back to sting. After being humiliated in countless one-sided games, the CBA last year introduced controversial rules limiting the amount of game time for imports from opposing teams playing the Rockets.

While an earnest attempt to keep the league competitive, it would have been wiser for the CBA to give Bayi an ultimatum: either operate like a professional sports club or face relegation to an amateur league. The CBA has been mauled in more recent years by the Guangdong Southern Tigers, who in the current playoffs are eyeing a record-leveling eighth title against Shandong. The Tigers' dynasty is thankfully on the verge of ending, with homegrown former NBA star Yi Jianlian unlikely to stay at the club if they don't win.

On the other hand, the Lions' hunt for glory should continue smoothly if foreign trio Zaid Abbas, Jackson Vroman and Pooh Jeter continue their recent scintillating playoff form.

It might not be easy for Beijing fans to get behind the team that bundled them out of this year's championship, but it would be good for Chinese basketball to see the Lions become new kings of the CBA jungle.

Let's just hope it's a reign that doesn't last too long.

See the original article here.