Chinese Basketball Association

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Chinese Basketball Association (CBA)
Chinese Basketball Association.png
Country  China
Confederation FIBA Asia (Asia)
Founded 1995; 22 years ago (1995)
First season 1995–96
Divisions 2
Number of teams 20
Level on pyramid 1
Current champions Xinjiang Flying Tigers (1st title)
(2016–17 CBA season)
Most championships Bayi Rockets
Guangdong Southern Tigers
(8 titles each)
Website (in Chinese)
2017–18 CBA season
Chinese Basketball Association
Traditional Chinese 中國男子籃球職業聯賽
Simplified Chinese 中国男子篮球职业联赛

The Chinese Basketball Association (simplified Chinese: 中国男子篮球职业联赛; traditional Chinese: 中國男子籃球職業聯賽; pinyin: Zhōngguó Nánzǐ Lánqiú Zhíyè Liánsài), often abbreviated as CBA, is the first-tier professional men's basketball league in China. It is widely regarded as the pre-eminent professional men's basketball league in Asia.

The league is commonly known by fans as the CBA, and this acronym is even used in Chinese on a regular basis.

The CBA should not be confused with the National Basketball League (NBL), which is a professional minor league. There is also a Women's Chinese Basketball Association (WCBA).

A few Chinese players who competed in the CBA in the early stages of their careers — including Wang Zhizhi, Mengke Bateer, Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, and Sun Yue — have also played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). A handful of others — Xue Yuyang, Zhou Qi, and Wang Zhelin — were drafted into the NBA but did not, or have yet to, see regular season action on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Only a limited number of foreign players are allowed on each CBA team. Notable imports include former NBA All-Stars Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Francis, and Metta World Peace — as well as several NBA veterans who would become CBA All-Stars — Michael Beasley, Aaron Brooks, Al Harrington, Lester Hudson, Kenyon Martin, Randolph Morris, Shavlik Randolph, and J.R. Smith.


The CBA began play in the 1995–96 season. The league should not be confused with the Chinese Basketball Association (organisation), which was founded in June 1956[1] and represents the country in matters involving the sport's governing body, FIBA. Basketball in China is currently regulated by the Chinese Basketball Management Center.

Other Chinese basketball leagues include the National Basketball League (NBL), the Chinese University Basketball Association (CUBA), and the Chinese High School Basketball League (CHBL).[2] At one time there was a league called the Chinese New Basketball Alliance (CNBA),[3] one of whose most prominent teams was the Beijing Sea Lions, but this venture lasted for just one winter (1996–97).[4]

The first non-Chinese player to compete in the CBA was Mihail Savinkov of Uzbekistan, who joined the Zhejiang Squirrels in the league's inaugural 1995–96 campaign.[5] During the 1996–97 season, James Hodges became one of the first Americans to play in the CBA, and his signing by the Liaoning Hunters helped pave the way for many more imports from the United States to follow in the ensuing years.

Some other notable foreign pioneers included John Spencer, who joined the Jiangsu Dragons later in the 1996–97 campaign, and David Vanterpool, who inked a deal with the Jilin Northeast Tigers the following winter, and helped the team move up to the CBA in time for the 1998–99 season. The CBA's first international coach was American Robert Hoggard, who led the Sichuan Pandas for the last eight games of the 1997–98 campaign.[6]

Team names[edit]

For a full list of teams, see Category:Chinese Basketball Association teams.

The full name of each team usually consists of three parts, in the following order:

  1. A geographic designation (except in the case of Bayi, which technically translates into English as "August First," the day China's People's Liberation Army was founded). All others are province-level designations (either a province or a Chinese municipality).
  2. A corporate sponsor name. This sponsor may change from year to year, and sometimes even in mid-season.
  3. A nickname, such as the name of an animal.

The presence of corporate sponsor names can occasionally lead to confusion about what name to use in English because many variants may be seen. Team names are usually abbreviated (in Chinese or English), so that either the corporate sponsor name or the nickname is used interchangeably (rarely both). In addition, team nicknames can sometimes be translated into English in more than one way, and corporate sponsors tend to change frequently over time.

Nickname changes are rare, but occasionally happen, such as when the Shandong team switched from Flaming Bulls (1995) to Lions (2003) to Gold Lions (2004) to Golden Stars (2014). Other examples include the Liaoning team dumping Hunters (1995) for Dinosaurs (2008) and then Flying Leopards (2011) -- as well as the Foshan team's evolving attempts to "Anglicize" its nickname—by going from Kylins (2001) to Dralions to Long-Lions

In previous years, the title of the league itself was available for corporate naming sponsorship. In 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 it was known as the Hilton League, in 2001–2002 and 2002–2003 it was the Motorola League, and in 2003–2004 it was sponsored by China Unicom. These corporate league titles were not always used in the news media, however, and this sponsorship practice was discontinued at the start of the 2004–2005 season.[7]

Current clubs[edit]

While teams are listed by division here, the CBA does not use these designations for regular season scheduling anymore, as each squad now plays each other once at home and once on the road. Divisions are used for the league's annual All-Star Game, however, and are shown here for the sake of convenience.


This is a chronological listing of current and former CBA teams according to the season that they entered the league.

Jiangsu Monkey King Beikong Fly Dragons Sichuan Blue Whales Tianjin Ronggang Qingdao DoubleStar Zhejiang Lions Shenzhen Leopards Yunnan Bulls Shanxi Zhongyu Fujian Sturgeons Xinjiang Flying Tigers Hong Kong Flying Dragons Pure-Youth Construction Basketball Team Shenzhen Yikang Guangzhou Long-Lions Jilin Northeast Tigers Beijing Olympians Shanghai Sharks Zhejiang Golden Bulls Shandong Golden Stars Liaoning Flying Leopards Jiangsu Dragons Guangdong Southern Tigers Beijing Ducks Bayi Rockets

Current Teams Defunct Teams

CBA Championship Series[edit]

In 2005, the league unveiled the Mou Zuoyun Cup (simplified Chinese: 牟作云杯; traditional Chinese: 牟作雲杯; pinyin: Móu Zuòyún Bēi), which was awarded for the first time to the winning team in the CBA Finals. Mou Zuoyun (born 1913) was a member of the Chinese men's national basketball team which competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics, and he later served as a coach and a pioneer in building Chinese basketball.[9]

Season Champions Result Runners-up Finals MVP Notes
1995–96 Bayi Rockets 2 – 0 Guangdong Southern Tigers Home/Away format used for 2 seasons
1996–97 Bayi Rockets 2 – 0 Liaoning Hunters
1997–98 Bayi Rockets 3 – 0 Liaoning Hunters Best-of-Five series used for 8 seasons
1998–99 Bayi Rockets 3 – 0 Liaoning Hunters
1999–00 Bayi Rockets 3 – 0 Shanghai Sharks Wang Zhizhi (Bayi)
2000–01 Bayi Rockets 3 – 1 Shanghai Sharks Liu Yudong (Bayi)
2001–02 Shanghai Sharks 3 – 1 Bayi Rockets Yao Ming (Shanghai)
2002–03 Bayi Rockets 3 – 1 Guangdong Southern Tigers Liu Yudong (Bayi)
2003–04 Guangdong Southern Tigers 3 – 1 Bayi Rockets Du Feng (Guangdong)
2004–05 Guangdong Southern Tigers 3 – 2 Jiangsu Dragons Zhu Fangyu (Guangdong)
2005–06 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 1 Bayi Rockets Yi Jianlian (Guangdong) Best-of-Seven series used since 2005–06
2006–07 Bayi Rockets 4 – 1 Guangdong Southern Tigers Wang Zhizhi (Bayi)
2007–08 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 1 Liaoning Hunters Zhu Fangyu (Guangdong)
2008–09 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 1 Xinjiang Flying Tigers Zhu Fangyu (Guangdong)
2009–10 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 1 Xinjiang Flying Tigers Zhu Fangyu (Guangdong)
2010–11 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 2 Xinjiang Flying Tigers Wang Shipeng (Guangdong)
2011–12 Beijing Ducks 4 – 1 Guangdong Southern Tigers Lee Hsueh-lin (Beijing)
2012–13 Guangdong Southern Tigers 4 – 0 Shandong Gold Lions Yi Jianlian (Guangdong)
2013–14 Beijing Ducks 4 – 2 Xinjiang Flying Tigers Randolph Morris (Beijing)
2014–15 Beijing Ducks 4 – 2 Liaoning Flying Leopards Stephon Marbury (Beijing)
2015–16 Sichuan Blue Whales 4 – 1 Liaoning Flying Leopards Hamed Haddadi (Sichuan)
2016–17 Xinjiang Flying Tigers 4 – 0 Guangdong Southern Tigers Darius Adams (Xinjiang)

CBA Finals appearances[edit]

This is a list of teams which have advanced to the CBA Finals and the overall win-loss records they have compiled in the Championship Series.

Num. Team W L Pct. Notes
13 Guangdong Southern Tigers 8 5 .615 Made every Finals from 2002–03 to 2012–13
11 Bayi Rockets 8 3 .727 Made every Finals from 1995–96 to 2003–04
3 Beijing Ducks 3 0 1.000
5 Xinjiang Flying Tigers 1 4 .200
3 Shanghai Sharks 1 2 .333
1 Sichuan Blue Whales 1 0 1.000
6 Liaoning Flying Leopards 0 6 .000
1 Jiangsu Dragons 0 1 .000
1 Shandong Golden Stars 0 1 .000


The CBA Most Valuable Player is awarded to the best player in a given CBA season. The award is handed out two times: one for the Chinese MVP and one for a foreign MVP. As well, each year the CBA Finals MVP award is handed out to the best player in a given CBA Finals series.

Scoring leaders[edit]


All-time leaders[edit]

Points China Zhu Fangyu 10,858
Rebounds China Mengke Bateer 4,548
Assists China Hu Xuefeng 1,807
Steals China Hu Xuefeng 1,313
Blocks China Wang Zhizhi 736
Three-point field goals China Li Nan 1,095
Dunks United States Jason Dixon 498

Single game records[edit]

Player Date
Points United States Errick McCollum 82 30 January 2015
Rebounds United States Garth Joseph 38 20 March 2002
Assists China Li Qun 28 2 February 2000
Steals 3 occasions
Blocks 3 occasions
Minutes Iran Samad Nikkhah Bahrami
9 February 2014
Three-point field goals United States Leon Rodgers
11 March 2009

Notable players[edit]

Listed below are some of the most accomplished Chinese players who have competed in the CBA.

Domestic players from the CBA who are renowned for crossing over to the NBA[edit]

Name CBA Team (Years) NBA Team (Years)
Mengke Bateer Beijing Ducks (1997–2006, 2013–2014)

Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2007–2013)

Denver Nuggets (2002)

San Antonio Spurs (2002–2003)

Toronto Raptors (2003–2004)

Sun Yue Beijing Olympians (2002–2004)

Beijing Ducks (2013–2017)

Los Angeles Lakers (2008–2009)
Wang Zhizhi Bayi Rockets (1995–2001, 2006–2015) Dallas Mavericks (2001–2002)

Los Angeles Clippers (2002–2003)

Miami Heat (2003–2005)

Yao Ming Shanghai Sharks (1997–2002) Houston Rockets (2002–2011)
Yi Jianlin Guangdong Southern Tigers (2002–2007, 2011–2017) Milwaukee Bucks (2007–2008)

New Jersey Nets (2008–2010)

Washington Wizards (2010–2011)

Dallas Mavericks (2012)

Domestic players from the CBA who were drafted but have not played in the NBA[edit]

Name Team (Years) Drafted
Wang Zhelin Fujian Sturgeons (2012–2017) 2016 / Round: 2 / Pick: 57th overall

Selected by the Memphis Grizzlies

Xue Yuyang Jilin Northeast Tigers (2001–2003)

Hong Kong Flying Dragons (2003)

Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2003–2011)

Qingdao Eagles (2011–2014)

2003 / Round: 2 / Pick: 57th overall

Selected by the Dallas Mavericks

Zhou Qi Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2014–2017) 2016 / Round: 2 / Pick: 43rd overall

Selected by the Houston Rockets

Domestic players from the CBA who are known for league or national team exploits[edit]

Scroll down to view more names.

Foreign imports[edit]

Listed below are some of the most accomplished foreign players who have competed in the CBA.

Non-Chinese players who spent more than one season in the CBA[edit]

Scroll down to view more names

High-profile foreigners who spent just one season in the CBA[edit]

Scroll down to view more names.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]