Former NBA star enjoys Chinese New Year at fan's home
What kind of Chinese New Year gift would you most want to receive if you were a diehard basketball fan who had spent the past 10 years trying to figure out how to shoot sweet 3-pointers?
How about some tips from one of the game's all-time great long-range shooters, Peja Stojakovic.
That's the Chinese New Year gift 23-year-old Xu Ting received on Thursday.
Xu received advice on 3-point shooting from former NBA star Stojakovic and then, as an added treat, got to taste Chinese New Year dumplings made and cooked by the Serbian, who played with five NBA teams during his 13-year career.
"This is the best Chinese New Year dinner I have ever had," said Xu, who is studying architecture at the Beijing University of Technology, wearing a Stojakovic Sacramento Kings jersey. "It is a dream come true. I am overwhelmed to have this opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year with my childhood hero at my home."
Stojakovic is visiting Beijing to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year with fans as a part of the NBA Chinese New Year Celebrations that run from Feb 7-14. The league is ushering in the Year of the Snake with a record 23 live games televised and streamed in China over eight consecutive days. Five NBA teams will host in-arena Chinese New Year-themed celebrations and two additional venues will have signage recognizing the holiday.
NBA China launched an online campaign through its social media platform in which fans were encouraged to write and share with others their ideas on how best to host Stojakovic for a Chinese New Year's Eve dinner.
Xu ultimately won the contest and Stojakovic, along with NBA China CEO David Shoemaker, showed up at his doorstep on Thursday and spent the evening with him and his family making New Year's paper cuttings, decorating the house, cooking dumplings and having dinner together.
"The NBA is a universal language right now because fans around the globe share the same passion for the games and their heroes," said Xu. "NBA stars are becoming more and more accessible for all the fans here in China and I am so fortunate to represent the millions of fans in China and be with Peja on this special occasion."
Stojakovic, who was born in the Year of the Snake, had a great time with Xu and his family, but admitted his 3-point skills didn't help a bit when it came to making dumplings.
NBA China also staged a special party at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing on Friday morning to allow more than 400 fans to watch the Lakers-Celtics showdown. Stojakovic and Maya Moore, the Minnesota Lynx player who just led Shanxi Flame to its first WCBA title, joined the party and celebrated the Chinese New Year with fans.