November 13, 2010

Cultural Crossover: With a New Afterword

Thanks to Google searches about Jinan, Shandong Normal University and other similarly obscure topics, this blog continues to get seen. Some guy recently asked me to review his book about basketball’s different forms around the world; another asked me if I had any other blogs he could check out; another wanted to collaborate with me on a marketing campaign for basketball in China (he must have glazed over the part where I moved to Denmark...but still).

I have no disillusions about the traffic – it’s still paltry, even more so than it was when I was churning out 1,500-word treatises about hot water and stretching and the Chinese’s affinity for cigarettes. But one way or another, people continue to stumble across the site. And with that in mind, I want to have a proper epilogue, or at least something more substantial than the defeatist post that hitherto acted as the blog’s climax.

I don’t have any groundbreaking cultural or anthropological pronouncements that I didn’t already detail in the blog’s heyday. But now that I’m in Denmark and have unfettered access to the Internet – including blogspot, which was blocked in China – I have been able to fix up and polish this summer’s posts. 

The biggest amendment: I have added a ton of pictures. The dearth of pictures on the site was a common grievance among readers. But in my defense, there are reasons besides laziness that forbade me from including photographic elements. You see, whenever I would publish a post from China, I had a three-minute window during which I could do the deed. The proxy that I used to get into blogspot,, allowed a frustratingly finite amount of time to play around before asking me to fork over my credit card into. So I couldn’t sit at my computer and tinker with photos, deciding where they should be placed, which ones to use, etc. I was on the clock from the moment I logged on. Besides that, the proxy had an inability to upload photos. YouTubeProxy allowed me to get in and publish text, but it wasn’t capable of handling photo uploads. These factors conspired to keep the layout barren, and this is something that (rightly) cropped up as a common criticism.

Me at my favorite court. Along the baseline are a few basketball buddies, a baffled Chinese lady and my motor bike.

Now, though, there are photos, and there are a few posts that, not surprisingly, are duly enhanced with the addition of visual elements. In particular:
  • This post, which details the popularity of basketball in China (evidenced by courts that sprout up in a series of bizarre places).
  • This post about Tracy McGrady’s sustained popularity in China, which – still going strong – has now officially outlasted McGrady’s knees and back.
  • This post, which looks at China’s booming fake NBA merchandise market.
  • This post, which looks at some of the basketball slang that echoes throughout Jinanese courts.
  • This post, which chronicles the bizarre basketball experience I had while on vacation in Beijing.
  • And this post, which holds a special place in my heart for it is the one that rehashes how I first stumbled across Li Ball’s Court and, unknowingly, stumbled into an interesting relationship with the dudes who played there – a relationship that, despite nagging language issues, ended up meaning quite a lot to me
So yeah, these posts are all a lot cooler now that they aren’t merely diatribes, but diatribes with pictures to boot.

Also, instead of forcing people to blindly navigate this months-long China/basketball diary, I’d like to gently nudge you toward a handful of posts that – in addition to the ones just mentioned – stand apart, at least for me. If you like these, then you could probably derive some enjoyment, insight or at least time-killing entertainment from this blog.
  • This is quite possibly the best thing written on the blog – at least according to the feedback I got from my small cohort of faithful readers – even though it has nothing to do with basketball.
  • This is a post about how the political protest so beautifully executed last summer by the Phoenix Suns could never happen in China.
  • This is a look at some of the Americans who have landed in the CBA – the Crazy and/or Banished Association.
  • This is an look at how American basketball players have a rep in China as being total ball-hogs – and how my buddy and I unwittingly slipped right into that stereotype.
  • This one is near and dear: The popularity of hot water in China (and how it changed me life).
And finally, the coup de grâce: Some pics that didn’t fit cleanly into any other posts. So I’m just going to stick them here. With that, thank you for checking this out, and farewell!

This picture I took of a homeless guy wearing an NBA cap confirms two things: (1) The popularity of basketball in China, and (2) the eternal resting place of my soul.

This was a scene from close to where I worked. It had a not insignificant role in stoking my curiosity about basketball in China.

Dingy courts, crappy balls and unsightly landscapes. Yep, this was basketball in Jinan.

A photo taken in Beijing, this is apparently a tour for school-aged kids, who for some reason are all carrying basketballs.

Night ball during the summer.

Hitler, bin Laden, Einstein, Kobe and Iverson.

Like I discussed here and here, Kobe is a big deal in China.
I just think this is cool.

The side of a box of milk.

This will work as a closer...


  1. amazing! thanks for this latest post!

  2. Decided to check back here on a whim. Now THIS is how a good blog looks! Yes I know a lot of it was out of your hands, but had the blog looked like this from the start, the snowball may have amassed a bit more. Good luck to you.

  3. Thanks, Hopfrog. I really appreciate it.

    I was just talking with my brother the other day about how I always enjoyed your comments, kind words and highly pertinent criticism.

    I don't know if I will ever publish them, but the results from my Cultural Crossover Commenter Power Rankings have you firmly in first place.