Fans up in arms as NBA players fail to show up in Hong Kong for Yao Ming charity basketball game

Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder opt against sending star players for Yao Foundation’s event at the Coliseum on Sunday, but Cavaliers’ JR Smith and veteran Vince Carter will appear

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 12:06pm

Yao Ming’s charity basketball game has been thrown into disarray with several NBA teams failing to send stars to Hong Kong as advertised for Sunday’s event at the Coliseum.

Hosts the South China Athletic Association said last month that the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder would be sending stars for the match against Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) players as part of the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the reunification.

However, no representatives from the three teams were included on a list of participating players put out by co-organisers the Yao Foundation this week.

Apple Daily reported some fans who bought tickets when they went on sale last month have already complained to the Customs and Excise Department by using the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

However, organisers refused to say if they would refund disgruntled fans two days ahead of the event.

“We have received some inquiries and are now handling these cases,” said Wilson Shum Ho-kit, vice chairman of the charity game’s organising committee.

“We know there are always concerns of the players’ list but in the end some of them are not available because of reasons in sports such as injury or transfer problems.

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“In fact, we did not release any players’ names last month because we had no information at that time.

“We are only commissioned by the Yao Foundation for organising the event and the foundation is responsible for all the players’ invitations from both CBA and NBA and the provision of technical support.”

Shum said Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray was supposed to be on the list, but picked up an injury before his departure to Hong Kong.

Murray has been replaced by the Milwaukee Bucks’ Gary Payton II – the son of NBA legend Gary Payton.

Another star to pull out at the last minute was Patrick McCaw of reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors.

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McCaw failed to make the trip due to personal reasons and has been replaced by veteran Vince Carter of the Sacramento Kings, who announced in a video posted to Weibo that he would be coming to Hong Kong in 24 hours.

Heading the NBA list is shooting guard JR Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while other players include Kings centre Willie Cauley-Stein, Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis, Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Justin Anderson, and Trey Lyles of the Denver Nuggets.

The cheapest tickets on sale for the event cost HK$380 with the highest priced at HK$7,800.