Tuesday September 30th, 2014

The Houston Rockets will wear special uniforms to celebrate the Chinese New Year this February, according to Rockets fan website ClutchFans http://rockets.clutchfans.net/7771/rockets-chinese-jersey-new-alternates/.

The sleeved uniforms, one of which is modeled by Dwight Howard below, will feature two Chinese characters in place of the traditional ‘Rockets’ lettering above the traditional western numbering. 

The team will wear the jersey during three consecutive home games, starting on Feb. 21 versus the Toronto Raptors, then on Feb. 23 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and again on Feb. 25 against the Los Angeles Clippers. The timing of the jersey corresponds with that of the Lunar New Year. The upcoming Chinese New Year is Feb. 19, and initiates the Year of the Goat.

ClutchFans

 
While the NBA’s popularity in China is growing, the Rockets are arguably the most popular NBA franchise in the country. Yao Ming, the NBA’s breakthrough Chinese star, was born in Shanghai. He played for the Rockets for nine seasons and was an All-Star for eight of them. More recently, current Los Angeles Laker Jeremy Lin played during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons in Houston, and was a fan-favorite. While Lin was born in California, his parents are Taiwanese and his grandmother is of Chinese origin.
 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters earlier this month that in the future he would consider start times for games as early as 10:00am EST so that Chinese residents could watch the games in primetime. Silver also said the NBA would consider partnering with the growing Chinese Basketball Association in the future. He estimated the number of potential viewers in China at 100 million. Chinese NBA fans queued up for five hours just to get a fleeting glimpse of NBA star Kobe Bryant during a recent visit. 

The NBA is the second most popular Internet search term in all of China, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. The same report said that during the NBA playoffs, Chinese viewership of Houston Rockets games doubled. 

- Will Green

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