Chinese Language Blog

Ballin’ – China Style Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 in Culture

The CBA - Hey, at least there's no lockout!

While the billionaire suits and the millionaire players can’t seem to reach an agreement on the other side of the world in the NBA, there will still be basketball this season in China. With an eminent NBA lockout this season, hordes of players have jumped ship to join the CBA (中国男子篮球职业联赛 – zhōng guó nán zǐ lán qiú zhí yè lián sài) – I know, saying CBA is much easier – this season. With tip-off just a few days away, let’s make sure you’re up to date on your CBA lingo.

There are 17 basketball teams (篮球队 – lán qiú duì) in the CBA, which began play in 1995. The teams are split into the Northern Division (北区 – Běi qū) and Southern Division (南区 – Nán qū). There used to be an even eight teams in each division, but the Yunnan Honghe Bulls (云南红河奔牛 – Yún nán hóng hé bēn niú) were kicked out of the league only a few years after joining it (for failing to pay wages and debts), leaving the Southern Division with only seven teams. Since 2005, the season has culminated in a playoff for the “Mou Zuoyun Cup” (牟作云杯 – Móu zuǒ yún bēi). Mou Zuoyun was a member of the Chinese national team at the 1936 Olympic games, and he later worked as a coach and helped to build a professional basketball league in the Middle Kingdom.


The way the regular season schedule is setup, each team plays every other team twice – once at home and once away. As there are 17 teams in the league, this means one team gets a bye every week of the regular season (常规赛 – cháng guī sài). As for the playoffs (季后赛 – jì hòu sài), the best eight teams qualify, and they are seeded accordingly. The first two rounds are best-of-five, and the final round is a best-of-seven fight for the championship.

Most team names for CBA squads are composed of three parts: a geographic location (with the exception of one team – the Bayi Rockets), a corporate sponsor, and a nickname. To ensure that you’re ready for all of the action this season, here are the names and locations of all 17 of the CBA teams:

  • Bayi Fubang Rockets (八一富邦火箭 – bā yī fù bāng huǒ jiàn)Ningbo, Zhejiang
  • Beijing Shougang Ducks (北京首钢鸭 – běi jīng shǒu gāng yā)Beijing, Beijing
  • DongGuan New Century Leopards (东莞新世纪烈豹 – dōng guǎn xīn shì jì liè bào)DongGuan, Guangdong
  • Fujian SBS Sturgeons (福建SBS浔兴 – fú jiàn SBS xún xìng)Jinjiang, Fujian
  • Guangdong Foshan Dralions (佛山龙狮 – fó shān lóng shī)Foshan, Guangdong
  • Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers (广东宏远华南虎 – guǎng dōng hóng yuǎn huá nán hǔ)DongGuan, Guangdong
  • Jiangsu Nangang Dragons (江苏南钢龙 – jiāng sū nán gāng lóng)Nanjing, Jiangsu
  • Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers (吉林大成生化东北虎 – jí lín dà chéng shēng huà dōng běi hǔ)Changchun, Jilin
  • Liaoning Dinosaurs (辽宁巨龙 – liáo níng jù lóng)Shenyang, Liaoning
  • Qingdao Double Star Eagles (青岛双星雄鹰 – qīng dǎo shuāng xīng xióng yīng)Qingdao, Shandong
  • Shandong Kingston Lions (山东金斯顿金狮 – shān dōng jīn sī dùn jīn shī)Jinan, Shandong
  • Shanghai Dongfang Sharks (上海东方鲨鱼 – shàng hǎi dōng fāng shā yú)Shanghai, Shanghai
  • Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons (山西中宇猛龙- shān xī zhōng yǔ měng lóng)Taiyuan, Shanxi
  • Tianjin Ronggang Gold Lions (天津荣钢金狮 – tiān jīn róng gāng jīn shī)Tianjin, Tianjin
  • Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers (新疆广汇飞虎 – xīn jiāng guǎng huì fēi hǔ)Urumqi, Xinjiang
  • Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls (浙江稠州银行金牛 – zhè jiāng chóu zhōu yín háng jīn niú)Yiwu, Zhejiang
  • Zhejiang Guangsha Lions (浙江广厦猛狮 – zhè jiāng guǎng shà měng shī) – Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Northern Division

Southern Division (minus Yunnan)

Since the introduction of the Muo Zuoyun Cup, only three teams have emerged victorious: Bayi has captured the title an astounding eight times, the Guangdong Southern Tigers have walked away champion seven times, and the Shanghai Sharks have taken the title once. Guangdong is in the midst of a four-peat, having defeated Xinjiang in the finals the past three years in a row.

Perhaps the biggest story in the CBA this year is that of former NBA superstar Stephon Marbury making the jump from Shanxi to Beijing. Having already received a very warm welcome in China’s capital city, “Starbury” has already made himself right at home. He’s even taking the incredibly crowded subway line one to practices – now that’s dedication!

Whichever team you cheer for, this should prove to be an exciting, landmark year for the CBA. As for me, after three years of living in Beijing, I’m proud to say, “Go Beijing Ducks!” (北京鸭加油 – běi jīng yā jiā yóu).

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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