Fresh off winning a second NBA title, Klay Thompson showed us his best self on a tour of China.
by Hugo Kitano@HugoKitano Jul 13, 2017, 8:00am PDT

NBA China
This story also appears on Dat Winning.
In the midst of a hectic NBA off-season, with star players seemingly on the move every week, the strangest basketball news this summer had nothing to do with free agency. When a video of Klay Thompson botching a half-hearted attempt at a 360° dunk in China surfaced on Twitter, we were introduced to the phenomenon known as #ChinaKlay.
Klay Thompson went to China to show them what the talents of an NBA player look like in real life pic.twitter.com/DdxZFJ5ZUv
— Ben B (@guga31bb) June 24, 2017

— Ben B (@guga31bb) June 24, 2017
Throughout the next week, #ChinaKlay kept popping up in photos and videos circulated throughout Twitter, encompassing a wide range of scheduled activities:
Here’s #ChinaKlay airballing a swaggy three.
Here he is losing at arm-wrestling due to unexpected tickling.
Here’s #ChinaKlay getting lit in the club and popping bottles.
Here he is in a kind of choreographed dance routine or something.


还有一个最佳的,这里社会主义克莱 在尝试一个太热或者太冷的食物
社会主义克莱一瞥#WarriorsTalk #Icon pic.twitter.com/Jb9wwks79D
— Warriors Talk (@JaeAzizi) July 6, 2017
Back here in the U.S., Thompson often seems detached, and his interactions with media are usually unremarkable. He is always good-natured, but tends to keep his feelings to himself. #ChinaKlay, on the other hand, is our favorite, lovable dork, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. Man does that guy look happy with life.
Fresh off signing a ten-year, $80-million endorsement extension with Chinese sportswear brand Anta, Thompson was in China on a promotional tour. Thompson admittedly didn’t know much about Anta when he first signed on in 2014, but relished the opportunity to explore the new Chinese market.
“Knowing that I could be really big in China, that was really cool to me,” said Thompson in an interview with Nice Kicks. “The shoe market sometimes is over-flooded in the States, and I thought, ‘Well, why not branch out and be global.’”
Thompson particularly sought to have major creative input into the design of his signature shoes and individual player tours as part of his deal. Because larger American brands promote far more players, Anta would be able to devote more attention to Thompson’s wishes and concerns.

社会主义克莱 来源:安踏

If anyone was puzzled by Thompson’s decision to sign with Anta, it was a decision that has literally paid off with his NBA success, which includes two NBA championships and three All-Star team nods in the past three years. Thompson is now Anta’s biggest marketable commodity, with only Rajon Rondo filling out their roster of NBA player endorsements. Under Anta’s new deal, Thompson now owns one of the top ten richest basketball shoe deals in 2017.
Being big in China, however, still doesn’t mean much stateside. Chinese sportswear brands have not been able to crossover into the U.S. market, with quality and originality still appearing to be the missing element. If this is a reputation that bigger Chinese sportswear brands are working to steer away from, newer brands like Uncle Martian haven’t helped change that perception.
在中国广受欢迎并不代表在美国也是如此。中国的体育品牌由于质量问题以及原创性的缺失,还未能够漂亮的打入美国市场。如果中国的体育品牌想要避开这样的口碑,那么Uncle Martian这样的公司还是越少越好。
(译者注:大家打开Uncle Martian的链接看一下,真是长见识)
And yet, #ChinaKlay has somehow transcended these and other cultural differences to perhaps start the wheels turning on a potential U.S. market. On a social media platform banned in China, we have gotten to see not only the best Klay, but a completely different world of fandom, a place where Klay can truly be happy. These are moments that can connect sports fans across different continents. #ChinaKlay is universal.

社会主义克莱的表演 来源: johnedwardasilo.

After Thompson missed the dunk attempt in the beginning of his trip, he immediately hoped it wouldn’t go viral, but we must be glad for it. For once not so long ago, there was Ping-Pong Diplomacy, then Muhammad Ali visited China, then Yao Ming went to the NBA, and now Klay Thompson. With a strained relationship to China under the current administration, few things can be said to be better for sports-based U.S.-China diplomacy than #ChinaKlay, and the world is better for having him.
Cover photo from NBA China.
封面照片来自NBA China.