When Yao Ming joined the Houston Rockets in 2002, the NBA instantly achieved what it long dreamed of: an enormous fan base in China. When Yao retired, it could have evaporated but for the efforts of Heidi Ueberroth, who’s been busy launching basketball camps and staging contests to meet NBA players–all to create new fans. “It all brings them so much closer to the game,” she says. For Chinese New Year, she created an eight-day, 23-game celebration, including player shout-outs to Chinese fans and online viewing parties. That netted 107 million views in China. Yao, who?
[Image courtesy of NBA]