Fans furious at choice of pop idol as NBA ambassador

By Lu Ming Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/21 19:12:27

The National Basketball Association's appointment of a milky-faced talent show pop star as the NBA Chinese New Year Celebration Brand Ambassador has sparked a macho backlash among some fans who deem the dainty idol unfit for the role.

The handsome singer and rapper Cai Xukun was chosen by the NBA to appear in a promotional video alongside NBA All-Star players Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

But in a poll on Chinese basketball portal Hupu, 79.5 percent of 38,503 voters picked "rubbish" in response to the appointment of the 20-year-old leader of boy band Nine Percent. Another 10.5 percent preferred "awesome."

The disgruntled fans lambasted the NBA for "misguiding the game" and kowtowing to Cai's popularity. 

One of Cai's posts on Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog service, in August 2018 received 100 million reposts, a record for the social media platform.

"What Cai represents is totally different from what the NBA means to us," a Hupu post reads. "It tells us to be dauntless and unyielding, but now it is telling us it's OK to be effeminate."

Hupu internet users added their angry male voices to a yearlong fracas over the gender politics and sexual identity of Chinese mainland celebrities, with the NBA fans apparently offended by a perceived lack of masculinity in the male pop star.

Cai rose to fame mostly through winning 2018 Chinese reality television show Idol Producer on the iQiyi online video platform and then leading Nine Percent. 

"The NBA is tilting toward the female market rather than male," posted a Hupu internet user. 

"Please tell me Adam Silver, what I should tell my kid if he asks me why a talent show star can be in line with NBA superstars who earned their reputation through sweat?" another post reads, addressing the NBA Commissioner. 

Not everyone was upset by the NBA choice, most notably in the comments under the video where many of Cai's fans praised the promotion on Weibo.

"Cai's popularity will attract more people who don't regularly watch basketball to take a look at the NBA," read another Weibo comment.


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