The Minnesota Timberwolves will be headed to China in 2017.
The NBA announced that the Wolves will meet up with Golden State for a pair of NBA Global Games in China next season.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen to play in the NBA Global Games, a testament to the growing relevancy and popularity of the Timberwolves overseas,” said Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson in a statement. “The NBA is seeing remarkable growth in China and it’s great to have our players in front of their incredible basketball fans.”
— NBA (@NBA) March 20, 2017
The Wolves will play the first game Oct. 5 in Shenzhen at the Shenzhen Universiade Center. Then they’ll play again Oct. 8 in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
It’s the first time the Wolves have played a game in Asia since they opened the 1999 season with a game against Sacramento in Tokyo.
The Timberwolves have been working to grow their brand internationally – especially in China. Wolves stars Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine have all made recent marketing trips to China as part of their shoe endorsements.
“It’s a great privilege for me and my teammates to play in China for the first time in our franchise’s history,” said Towns in a statement Monday. “When I visited last summer, I was amazed at the passion that Chinese fans have for the game of basketball. Traveling to China with my teammates and coaches will be a fantastic experience.”
The team also notes that it’s the first team of any major U.S. sports league to add a Chinese minority owner – Lizhang Jiang.
The Wolves have also seen growth in the Chinese media market. This season a total of seven Timberwolves games are airing on the Chinese television network CCTV and 25 games will stream for free through Chinese media company Tencent.