Government brushes off fans’ uproar over NBA no-shows for Yao Ming charity game in Hong Kong
NBA stars arrive in Hong Kong ahead of Sunday’s match with organisers claiming the 12,000-capacity Coliseum is nearly sold out despite complaints over absentees
The government is confident Yao Ming’s charity basketball match at the Coliseum on Sunday will still attract a big crowd despite a ticket refund row over several NBA player no-shows.
A spokesman for the event organisers said most of the tickets at the 12,000-capacity venue have been sold, with less than 100 tickets available at HK$680.
However, hosts South China Athletic Association have announced refunds will be made available, after some fans who bought tickets complained to the Customs and Excise Department by using the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
“A lot of fans are looking forward to the game as this is the first time we have current NBA players playing against CBA stars in Hong Kong,” said sports commissioner Yeung Tak-keung.
“Some people have voiced different ideas on the internet and some have made complaints but we are not worrying [about the attendance]. The fans can make their own choice, the ticket sales are still good.”
The hosts said last month when tickets went on sale that players from the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder would attend the Yao Foundation charity match, which is part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the handover.
However, no representatives from these three teams were included when the official players’ list was announced this week.
Meanwhile, one NBA star who has showed up for the game, JR Smith, is thrilled to be part of the occasion.
The Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard, who won the NBA championship in 2016, seems to be quite confident of going on a scoring spree when he plays for the first time in Hong Kong.
Asked how many three-pointers he is going to score, Smith replied: “Let me calculate ... 10 minutes a quarter, play the first two quarters ... 30! Unless they don’t pass me the ball.”
Another star name, veteran Vince Carter – who replaced last-minute withdrawal Patrick McCaw of NBA champions the Golden State Warriors – will not arrive in Hong Kong until Sunday morning.
“It’s great to come out and see a different part of the world here in Hong Kong,” said Justin Anderson of the Philadelphia 76ers. “I’ve seen so many beautiful things here.
“What separates this event, Yao has a huge impact on China in general, and for me to be invited here by Nike basketball on behalf of Yao, it’s an opportunity I want to take advantage of.
“We’re gonna have fun and put on a show for all of the fans who love basketball. I’ve never been around so many people who love basketball so much. That’s something that surprised me.”