By Sportswriters Li Bowen and Lin Deren
BEIJING, April 25 (Xinhua) -- It was a moment long in the making as Liaoning won the Chinese Basketball Association championship for the first time in its 23-year history.
After the last game, Yao Ming, former NBA All-star, presented the championship to Liaoning. For Yao, this time is different, because it is the first trophy Yao has presented as the chairman of the CBA League Sports Company.
CBA League reform started with the establishment of the CBA League Sports Company at the end of 2016. The number of teams to enter into the playoff has been increased to 10 this season and will reach 12 in the next four seasons.
To enhance promotion and increase exposure, although the number of games in regular season doesn't change, the games have been rescheduled, running from Tuesday to Sunday every week.
In order to have a steady flow of excellent young players into the CBA League, the CBA Reserve League, similar to the NBA G League, schedules its games during this season as well.
According to statistics from China's Central TV, the TV rating of this season increased compared with that of last season, and set a new record with an average rating of 1.25% during CCTV-5's live coverage of the first game of the finals.
During semifinals and finals, Liaoning moved to the Liaoning Stadium to host the games. Together with Beijing, Guangdong and Shenzhen, Liaoning becomes the fourth team to hold games in a stadium with the capacity over 10,000. Just six years ago, there was not a single CBA formal game held in a stadium at such scale.
When asked about the operation of the league, Yao Ming said this season saw CBA operating income reach the highest it's ever been.
Liaoning province is a sports powerhouse. In the course of China's competitive sports development, Liaoning used to be in a leading position for quite a long period, closely linked with its relatively advanced industrial base and economic performance.
In recent years, the economy of Liaoning province, and that of China's northeastern region, has encountered some difficulties.
In the "gear shifting period" of the structural transformation of the economy, driving forces from emerging industries are urgently needed.
In the field of basketball, relying on a solid player base, Liaoning has established a sophisticated system for talent building, becoming one of the largest talent pools in China.
Among the 200 players registered in the CBA League, around 50 are from Liaoning province, and quite a number of players have experience of training in Liaoning.
"Now, capitals from around the country are investing in junior basketball and football programs. That is a good thing, for it shows that the atmosphere for extracurricular training has been widely recognized," said Song Kai, the Head of the Liaoning sports bureau.