The Miami Heat will soon travel to China to play two pre season games against the Los Angeles Clippers in Beijing and Shanghai as part of the NBA‘s ongoing global efforts to promote basketball. The team already has three popular players in their ‘Big 3′ of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to draw fans in China, but they will soon find out first hand that they also have another big star in the country.
That star is none other than Shane Battier.
Known to NBA fans and media in the U.S. as the ‘No Stats All Star,’ Battier is not seen as a player who would be a big international draw. However, it has been his intangibles on and off the court that has made him a celebrity in China.
Battier’s star in the country began to rise when he was pursued to endorse the Chinese shoe company Peak while he played for the Memphis Grizzlies right before he was traded to the Houston Rockets. While the prospect of playing with a Chinese national icon in Yao Ming certainly rose his stock, Battier stated to the Heat media that he was told it wasn’t the main reason for his popularity. In fact, the Chinese NBA fans put more weight into the way he valued his family, education and his desire to have fun while trying his best in the court.
Battier has endorsed Peak for the past seven years, making summer trips to China for promotions. His celebrity status in China has grown in that time with millions of fans subscribing to a blog and following an official Chinese Twitter account.
Knowing this now, it feels more natural for Battier to be on Miami’s roster than elsewhere. The Heat are among the most popular teams in China. The team also has had a marketing deal with Chinese beer company Tsingtao since last December that includes some of the company’s popular Passion Dancers being flown to Miami to perform alongside the Heat Dancers during games.