While the NBA playoffs are going on stateside, Dominique Wilkins is busy on the other side of the world. The Human Highlight Film visited China for a few days to check out a trio of league initiatives: The opening of the world’s first NBA lifestyle complex in Tianjin called the NBA Center, the world’s second basketball-themed family entertainment center called NBA Playzone, and to attend the finals of the regional final of the Jr. NBA World Championship.
Wilkins was on his way to watch the final thing on his agenda — the game to decide which group of kids will represent China at the Jr. NBA World Championship in Orlando this summer — when he sat down with Dime to discuss his trip, the NBA’s efforts to grow in China, and the 2018 postseason.
Dime: What are you doing over in China?
Dominique Wilkins: We’ve been to the grand opening, to the fun zone here at NBA Center here, that is just absolutely beautiful. Beautiful facility, that’s one-of-a-kind in the world. Did the ribbon cutting at both facilities and it was just a wonderful experience with the people here. Being in China, I come to China all the time, and I’m always amazed about the growth of basketball in this part of the world.
What have you gotten to check out while you’ve been over there? Both on your official NBA duties and then just someone who’s from another country getting to go walk around and check things out over in China?
To me, it is great. Shopping is great, always great over here. The food, the people treat you … they’re so warm. Such a warm feeling here. It’s just amazing how you’re treated when you come here.
What stood out when you were checking out the NBA Center for the first time?
How big it was. The place is amazing. It’s right in the middle of the neighborhood and normal people would get a chance to enjoy basketball at such a nice facility. It’s amazing.
And you also went to see the NBA Playzone, correct?
Right, I did.
What stood out there?
The thing that was amazing about that is that people can shop and kids can play at the same time. It’s right in a mall, and I think it’s really nice how they have put that whole structure together. They made it a safe haven for the kids as well.
What exactly are you doing over there with the Jr. NBA World Championship regional finals?
We are actually on the way there now, we’re going to check out the games. Show our appreciation and see how basketball continues to develop in this part of the world, so I’m looking forward to seeing the game.
How important are things like the NBA Center, the Playzone, and the Jr. NBA World Championships to the growth of basketball in China, and do you think there’s anything we in the States can take and apply from facilities and events like this?