Basketball is huge in China. The sport has an estimated 300 million fans nationwide, roughly one fifth of the population. It plays a profound role in Chinese sports fans' everyday life, and its influence is only increasing as Chinese basketball becomes more intertwined with the world.
As the year of 2019 is wrapping up, CGTN has selected some memorable events in Chinese basketball from 2019.
China hosts the 2019 FIBA World Cup for the first time
2019 saw China hosting the FIBA basketball World Cup for the first time ever. From August 31 to September 15, eight Chinese cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Foshan, and Dongguan jointly hosted the game.
President of the Chinese Basketball Association Yao Ming receives the FBWC Trophy form Kobe Bryant during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Draw Ceremony at Shenzhen Bay Arena on March 16, 2019 in Shenzhen, China.
Despite being the host for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the Chinese national basketball team finished an embarrassing 24 out of 32 in the basketball showpiece, missing out on the knockout round and the direct qualification for next year's Olympics.
The national basketball team's undesirable results at the FIBA basketball World Cup provoked a negative reaction from a large population of Chinese basketball fans.
Chinese basketball team players gather to raise morale before the game against Nigeria on September 8, 2019.
Among the critics were the current chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association Yao Ming, who took full responsibility for China's poor showing. And the Chinese national basketball team's coach Li Nan resigned afterwards.
Whatever the prospect for China's basketball, there is no doubt the reform of the sport still has a long way to go in the country. The team's newly-appointed coach Du Feng urged fans to have more patience with the team.
NBA star Jeremy Lin signs for Beijing Ducks in CBA
Former NBA champion Jeremy Lin signed a contract with China's Beijing Ducks to play for the 2019-2020 Chinese basketball League on August 2019.
Jeremy Lin drives to the basket during the game against Zhejiang on December 17.
His joining was a big deal for Chinese basketball fans as the Chinese-American Lin became something of an idol in China following his phenomenal "Linsanity" explosion.
Lin has contributed 24.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists on average to help Beijing Ducks win 12 over 17 games so far. Lin had announced that he will be donating 3,000 yuan (428 U.S. dollars) for every three-pointer that he will be making this season.
Jeremy Lin takes a free throw during the game against Liaoning on November 22.
His CBA games have not only ignited the country's entertainment and sports stars have come to watch him, but have also further ignited Beijing basketball fans passion for the game.
NBA broadcasting suspended in China over Daryl Morey's remarks
On October 4, NBA's Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey made a post on Twitter in support of protesters in Hong Kong. Many Chinese NBA fans reacted to his comments with outcry and demanded for an immediate apology.
Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets.
The backlash from China also followed quickly with China Media Group (CMG) decided to suspend the live-streaming of Houston Rockets games on the same Sunday.
On the following Tuesday, the CCTV Sports channel of CMG announced it will suspend the NBA broadcasting because league commissioner Adam Silver supported Morey. Many Chinese brands, including Li Ning and Peak, also have halted their NBA sponsorships.
The CCTV Sports Channel broadcast NBA games for the very first time in 1987, introducing the world top basketball game to the Chinese fans. It took more than three decades for the NBA to reach the success it has had in China.
Ji Zhe, three-time CBA champion, dies of lung cancer aged 33
Fans turned on their cell phones in the dark Beijing Wukesong Arena in memory of passed Ji Zhe during the game between Beijing Ducks and Shenzhen.
Former Beijing Ducks' player Ji Zhe, a three-time Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league winner, died of lung cancer at the age of 33 on December 5.
"At 2:14 a.m. on December 5, 2019, after fighting against lung cancer for over a year, Ji Zhe left us," Beijing Ducks said in a statement.
Ji's passing away was a shock for many Chinese basketball fans and CBA players as his illness had never been revealed publicly before.
Many CBA players and Chinese basketball fans expressed their condolences via their social media account.
"Hopefully basketball will accompany you in heaven! R.I.P," wrote Yi Jianlian, the CBA's all-time leading scorer from Guangdong Tigers.
"This moment I feel saddened for your family members who love you," Marbury wrote on social media. "My bro, my teammate, my companion, my captain, I hope everything is smooth in the other world. I pray that your family members can bear the pain of loss, and hope they can stand in braveness. They can feel the energy by people who love you everywhere in the world. R.I.P."
During the Beijing Ducks game against Guangzhou Loong Lions on December 10, the team retired Ji's #51 jersey at Wukesong Arena.