The Houston Rockets signed a three-year marketing agreement with East West Bank, the latest association between the National Basketball Association team and a company with operations in China.
The accord, which gives East West in-arena and on-air exposure to fans through the 2014 season, comes two months after the Rockets added Jeremy Lin to their roster. Houston entered deals with Asian companies after signing Chinese center Yao Ming in 2002. Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest automaker, put its name on the team’s arena when it opened in 2003.
“Over the past decade, the Rockets have developed and established an international following, particularly throughout Asia,” Rockets Chief Executive Officer Tad Brown said in a statement. “This partnership with East West Bank, a leader in the international banking community, will add to that global presence.”
East West Bank has its corporate headquarters in Pasadena, California, and branches throughout the U.S. and China.
Lin, a Harvard University economics graduate and the first Taiwanese- or Chinese-American to play in the NBA, rose to prominence when he took over as starting point guard for the New York Knicks in February.
The Knicks allowed him to leave in July when they declined to match Houston’s three-year, $25 million offer. Under the new labor accord between the league and its players, Lin’s back-loaded deal would have cost New York $25 million to $35 million more in the final season had it matched the contract.
After his retirement from playing to 2011, Yao formed a partnership with the NBA’s subsidiary in China, where 300 million people say they’re basketball fans. The 7-foot-6 (2.29 meter) Yao is collaborating with the league to start basketball and social-development programs for Chinese youth.
Yao’s foundation began a youth basketball program at 47 schools across Sichuan province.