Changing China

Giant on the move

U.S. rout China — but just wait another 117 years

August 10, 2008

Bryant slam dunks

The Olympic basketball match between China and the United States just ended with the U.S. pulling away to win 101-70 in what they say was the most-watched event sporting event in China’s history.

It’ll be no surprise if the estimates are right and a billion or so people around the world were tuned in to watch what was after all an irresistible contest – a meeting between the “Reds” and the “Red-White-and-Blues” and one laden with symbols. 

Given the circumstances it was truly more than just a game — and I found myself wondering what James Naismith, who invented basketball in 1891 by putting up two peach baskets, would have thought had he been here too.

I had a great seat, not all that far from where U.S. President George W. Bush was watching, and a few rows over from actress Glenn Close, and even though I’m an American — and an avid follower of Olympic basketball ever since the United States got robbed by the Soviet Union in the electrifying final of the 1972 Munich Olympics — I found myself “oohing” and “aahing” like everyone else.

I even found myself cheering for the scintillating team play of China and the sheer joy that erupted in the seats around me when China scored.

At the same time the Chinese fans were out of the seats cheering every great American pass or basket — especially the spectacular, gravity-defying dunks form a U.S. team who seemed to be true to their promise of a new attitude after the humbling experience of Athens in 2004.

Basketball is a huge sport in China and many of the Chinese people I’ve talked say they watch the NBA all the time on television. It’s still much better, they confide, than their CBA. But, like everything else in Beijing, China is catching up.

And who knows what will happen in another 117 years?

PHOTO: Kobe Bryant of the U.S. slam dunks against China during their Group B men’s basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


I’m no basketball fan but I did catch the last three minutes of the game. With China losing, I couldn’t help but wonder why Ming wasn’t out on the court. I thought he was their greatest weapon?

Its good to hear that Bush was enjoying a basketball game at the Great Communist Olympics in China while Putin was heading back home to direct Russias invasion of a new democracy, Georgia.

Posted by Neal | Report as abusive

Hey Neal, you should have seen the start. He scored a 3-pointer (really!) to put China ahead 3-0 and was the “quarterback” on the court for his team. China was leading through much of the first quarter and he played well, though he still looks a bit rusty after being out of action for so long. He came out with about five minutes to go when the game was already decided.

Posted by Erik Kirschbaum | Report as abusive

I think it’s great they did so well in this game. I think this team has a great chance of winning the gold.

I also think it was great that the leader of our country was helping to support our countries greatest basketball game. I just love his team spirit.

Posted by jenessa | Report as abusive

Cut that 117 year estimate by 10 fold, and it would be somewhat on the dot.

Posted by Rui | Report as abusive

I think you might be right, Rui. They came awfully close to beating Spain tonight and the Spanish are a top-drawer team.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Didnt watch the olymics havent watched it for years but in the 72 olympics my sisiter had a thing for MARK SPITZ

Posted by Flu-Bird | Report as abusive

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