shanghai sharks nba lineup explained

Why Do NBA Memers Keep Imagining Players Going To China?

It's NBA playoff season and on social media, not a game goes by without a player falling victim to a wave of edits showing them in a jersey for the Chinese Basketball Association's Shanghai Sharks. You might also see an image of an incorrectly-attributed quote from NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying "Get ready to learn Chinese, buddy." Sometimes, you might just see an iPhone notification that a Chinese number is calling that NBA player.

For years now, the trendy NBA meme has been used to "punish" players who underperform with jokes threatening that they'll soon end up in the CBA. While meanspirited, the meme has a fascinating historical context that dates back decades.

Where Do "NBA Players Going To China" Memes Come From?

The NBA and China have had a fascinating symbiotic relationship for decades now. It's no secret that the NBA is very popular in China, even if the relationship between the country and the league has grown contentious in recent years. China began attracting American talent in the 90s, and in 2001, Wang Zhizhi became the first Chinese player to play in the NBA.

In 2002, China became an extremely important market to the NBA when Yao Ming was drafted by the Houston Rockets. As the NBA market in China grew, NBA players began looking to China as a potential destination as a way to enhance their international brands. In 2010, former Suns and Knicks star Stephon Marbury left the NBA after 13 seasons to finish his career with the Beijing Ducks, breaking the wall for NBA stars to come to China.

According to reports from his time with the Ducks, Marbury believed elite American talent would follow his lead. For a time, this was true, as big names like Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas and Steve Francis made the move to the CBA.


However, unlike Yao Ming, who moved to the NBA after just five seasons with the Shanghai Sharks, the majority of players who elect to join the CBA are generally considered past their prime by NBA fans. That opinion may be shared by NBA general managers when evaluating players who eventually join the CBA.

According to Field Insider, NBA players often elect to sign with CBA teams due to dissatisfaction with NBA contract offers and playing time β€” in other words, NBA owners don't think these players are worth investing in, so the players elect to take their talents to China. When fans recognized this trend, jokes about underperforming players moving to the CBA hit the mainstream.

How Did The "NBA Players Going To China" Meme Start?

The first wave of jokes surrounding NBA players going to China centered around the eternally vexing point guard Ben Simmons. In his time in the NBA, Simmons was once thought of as a remarkable talent, but is seemingly terrified of shooting the basketball. This came to a head in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semi-finals, where then-76er Simmons passed up a wide-open dunk in a key moment during the Sixers' playoff loss.

From fans' outrage emerged gags about Simmons heading to the Shanghai Sharks, as his performance was apparently so dreadful that fans couldn't imagine him heading to another NBA team (Simmons did wind up with the Nets, but his tenure there has been even worse).

What Are "NBA Players Going To China" Memes Today?

Currently, there are three key memes in the "NBA Players Going To China" repertoire. The first is, as was the case with Simmons, joking that the player will or already has signed with a CBA team, usually the Shanghai Sharks.

SHANGHAI SHARKS Stich Ben Simmons POTENTIAL NEW LINEUP Philirok 250 B infor HOODIEMELO Joe Harris wish chime Kyle Kuzma AKERS DALLA AZZ 6 27 1 Kristaps Porzingis 5 FIGHT Rudy Gobert

The second is a photoshop of NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying "Get ready to learn Chinese buddy," which is usually reserved for more controversial players, such as Kyrie Irving. Silver never said this, as we've explained before.

Lastly, there are jokes about China calling NBA players after they underperform. Most recently, Milwaukee Buck Grayson Allen received a slew of these after failing to get off a game-tying shot attempt in his team's season-ending loss to the Miami Heat.

At the moment, jokes about NBA players joining the CBA are more popular than ever, and will likely continue in full force throughout the remainder of the NBA playoffs, particularly as the eliminated teams begin looking to rebuild heading into next season. For example, the eliminated Memphis Grizzlies have already declared that they will not re-sign their controversial player Dillon Brooks "under any circumstances" for next season. Sure enough, here is the (inaccurate) Wikipedia page for the CBA's Beijing Ducks at the time of writing.

Beijing Ducks Article Talk From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the basketball team. For the dish, see Peking duck. 1), also The Beijing Shougang Ducks (simplified Chinese: known as Beijing Shougang or Beijing Ducks, are a professional basketball team based in Beijing, China. On 2/5/2023, the club secured its most coveted free agent in a sign and trade with the Memphis Grizzlies for G Dillon Brooks after it was revealed that the Grizzlies organization would not give Brooks a contract extension 'under any circumstances'. It is expected that Brooks will absolutely dominate in the CBA as LeBron (Le2InchMeat) James is no longer a threat. Dillon Brooks will also no longer have to deal with Draymond (Donkey) Green and his podcasts.

For more information, check out the Know Your Meme entries on the Shanghai Sharks and "Get ready to learn Chinese, buddy."

Comments (0)

Display Comments

Additional comments have been disabled.

Word Up! You must login or signup first!