Chinese Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rooster — begins on Saturday January 28th!
As the NBA has done in years past, Chinese New Year celebrations are planned for most teams, with activities running from January 27th through February 12th.
For its part, the Golden State Warriors will wear commemorative Chinese New Year uniforms in its January 28th game against the LA Clippers.
For all of the travesties of Richard Nixon’s presidency, one positive he is remembered for is opening relations with China, which led the way for the NBA to send the Washington Bullets to China to play exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai in 1979. The game caught on, and NBA basketball became an obsession for Chinese fans — both domestic and abroad. (And, yes — thank goodness Washington got rid of that team nickname.)
This is why so many superstar players spend part of the offseason on Chinese soil. In the summer before the 2016-17 season, Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, spent time hooping with new friends in Guangzhou.
She has a pretty sweet jumper.
To celebrate Chinese New Year 2017, animated paper versions of Curry, Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Anthony Davis are featured in a commercial by the NBA. Human versions of Curry and Lin appear at the end with “Happy Chinese New Year/Happy Year of the Rooster” well-wishes.
During this year’s celebrations, the NBA has granted broadcast rights to multiple Chinese networks for a record 60 games.
Interest in NBA basketball reached new heights in China when number-one draft pick, 7’6” Yao Ming, signed with the Houston Rockets in 2002. Ming would go on to earn eight trips to All-Star Games as well as induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame after retirement. Thus, it is quite fitting that the league chose the Chinese New Year festivities as the opportune time to celebrate his groundbreaking time in the league and retire his jersey during halftime at the Rockets-Bulls game on February 3rd.
The NBA has spent four decades bringing its brand of basketball to China, perhaps with hopes that it would grow into the type of worldwide obsession that soccer is. The league has spent countless dollars exporting authentic NBA basketball to China, and now turns its attention to supporting development of Chinese basketball players. Yet, as with any product that gets exported and imported, the underlying motivation is always profit.
Therefore, while the NBA is pumping China’s cities with NBA basketball culture, merchandise and memorabilia, it would be fitting for the league to also take a more expansive approach in educating the U.S. population about Chinese culture, including the Chinese New Year celebrations. With the jagged schisms dividing the country and carving right through its core values at this time, this kind of cultural exposure is needed now more than ever.
Chinese New Year — a time of exciting celebrations with friends, family and fireworks — is the perfect time to start.
Happy Year of the Rooster!
Chinese New Year Fun Facts
- The dates for Chinese New Year change every year because they are determined by the lunisolar calendar of moon phases. Chinese New Year 2017 runs from January 28th through February 15th. (1)
- Chinese New Year is the busiest travel time for China, with hundreds of millions of people traveling to their hometowns for time with friends, family and festivity. (2)
- Many wear red during Chinese New Year because the color is believed to bring good luck. (2)
- The quintessential holiday food in northern China is steamed meat-and-vegetable dumplings. (2)
- It is customary for Chinese workers to return to their hometowns with gifts in-hand — everything ranging from flat-screen TVs and vats of meat to things children would enjoy. (2)
- “Each Chinese New Year is characteri[z]ed by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 blocks (or houses) just like its western counterpart, but with the major difference being that each house has a time-length of one year instead of one month. This year it's the Year of the Rooster, the tenth animal in the cycle. The next Year of the Rooster will be in 2029.” (1)
- “Each year, the Chinese calendar assigns an animal from a rotating zodiac of 12 animals. The 12 animals cycle through rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2016 was the Year of the Monkey. Apart from 2017, the Year of the Rooster includes the years 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2029.” (3)
- “Roosters are characterized as observant and hardworking. Active and talkative, Roosters tend to enjoy social events and being in the center of attention, according to Chinese astrology. They also typically enjoy sports, according to traits set by the astrology.” (3)
- “Famous Roosters include Beyoncé, Bob Marley, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Jennifer Aniston.” (3)
- Popular Chinese New Year Greetings (1):