The NBA may have had some controversial incidents in regard to China in years' past, but according to the greatest Chinese basketball player ever, the league is still "first class." Yao Ming, president of the Chinese Basketball Association, recently said NBA players are definitely welcome in his home country.
"I have to say, the NBA is in the first class... (because) you know the players being exposed in China for so long," Yao told Reuters. "The players, the teams (are) all still very well welcome in China and (we had) a couple of players with (in) China just this past summer."
Yao himself was one of the NBA's biggest stars. After playing for the Shanghai Sharks from 1997-2002, the 7-foot-6 center played for the Houston Rockets until his retirement in 2011. During that time, he became an eight-time All-Star and left enough of a legacy to get his No. 11 jersey retired.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer was unanimously elected to his current position with the CBA in 2017. And through that time he has witnessed some turbulence between the NBA and China.
Earlier this year, former NBA center Dwight Howard -- who played for the Taoyuan Leopards last season -- caused a stir by referring to Taiwan as a country in a promotional video. Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy, but most governments in the world do not recognize it as an independent country as China claims it as its own territory.
Before then, one of the biggest issues occurred in 2019 when former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey -- now the Philadelphia 76ers' president of basketball operations -- made a social media post supporting anti-government protests in Hong Kong. This led to Chinese broadcasters refusing to air Rockets games for 15 months.
But despite past issues, the relationship between China and the NBA seems to be doing well. Yao said he was a fan of NBA commissioner Adam Silver and likes what he is doing with the league.
"Everything looks [like it is] running very, very well [under] his management," Yao said.