CunBA is a grassroots basketball phenomenon that has taken China by storm. The name comes from the Chinese word “cun”, meaning village, and the acronym for the National Basketball Association (NBA). CunBA is a rural basketball league that started in Taipan, a remote village in southwest Guizhou province, where the annual tournament has been held for decades. But in recent years, the event has gone viral on social media and attracted millions of online viewers, as well as thousands of spectators who flock to the village to witness the thrilling games.
The appeal of CunBA lies in its authenticity and passion, as the amateur players compete for glory and pride, rather than money or fame. The prizes are simple platters of roast meat, but the stakes are high, as the teams represent their home villages and ethnic groups. The games are fast-paced and intense, with fans cheering loudly and banging pots and pans in the stands. The atmosphere is electric, and the players are determined to give their best.
The popularity of basketball in China
Basketball is hugely popular in China, with an estimated 300 million people playing the sport regularly. The NBA is widely followed by Chinese fans, who have idolized stars like Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. China also has its own professional league, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), which features some of the best domestic and foreign players.
However, the CBA has been plagued by corruption and match-fixing scandals in recent years, which have eroded the trust and interest of many fans. Some have turned to alternative sources of basketball entertainment, such as CunBA, which offers a more pure and genuine experience of the sport. CunBA also showcases the diversity and culture of China’s rural areas, where basketball is deeply rooted in the local traditions and customs.
The visit of Jimmy Butler
One of the most remarkable events in the history of CunBA was the visit of Jimmy Butler, an NBA star who plays for the Miami Heat. Butler came to Taipan village on July 31, 2023, as part of a promotional tour organized by his sponsor Li-Ning, a Chinese sportswear company. Butler was greeted by thousands of adoring fans and players, who welcomed him with banners and chants. He also joined them on the court, where he dribbled and made practice shots.
Butler was amazed by the enthusiasm and skill of the CunBA players, who impressed him with their hustle and talent. He praised them for their love of basketball and their dedication to improving their game. He also expressed his admiration for their culture and lifestyle, saying that he learned a lot from them. Butler’s visit was a huge boost for CunBA’s popularity and recognition, as it showed that even an NBA star could appreciate and enjoy the rural basketball league.