The NBA will send one of its most popular franchises along with one on the rise to China as part of the league’s Global Games series next season.
The Golden State Warriors will face the Minnesota Timberwolves in two exhibition games, one in Shenzhen and the other in Shanghai, which will take place during preseason in the fall, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
ESPN Sources: Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves to play a pair of exhibition games in China next fall. Shenzhen and Shanghai.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 10, 2017
The league’s immense popularity in China is a big reason to try and cater to a Chinese market by sending marquee names like Stephen Curry and the Warriors. The Chinese Basketball Association itself is a huge hit in Asia, bringing in a “cumulative audience of 434 million over the final six games” of their 2015 season, per In Front Sports.
Athletes that have signature shoes made by Chinese companies like Dwyane Wade (Li-Ning), Klay Thompson (Anta), and Dwight Howard (Peak) — and now Jimmer Fredette, who himself is playing in China with a shoe deal — often visit the country during the offseason for promotional tours.
The league has also held exhibition games in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) and in Canada (Vancouver and Calgary) this preseason in order to expand their reach to broader horizons. As the best and most successful league in the world, these occasions are often cherished overseas and are a huge pull for fans across the world.