Legendary army team leads list of inductees to Basketball Hall of Fame
Published: Nov 23, 2023 08:30 PM
Chinese Basketball Association President Yao Ming Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

 Chinese Basketball Association President Yao Ming speaks at the ceremony on November 23, 2023. Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

Yao Ming, president of the Chinese Basketball Association, unveiled the inductees to the Chinese Basketball Hall of Fame - Class of 2023 on Thursday, the country's top basketball honor, in Beijing, with the country's hoop legends such as Zhang Weiping and Olympic silver medalists from the 1992 Women's National Team making the list.

Together with Zhang Weiping, who led the men's national team as the center/power forward and won three titles in the FIBA Asia Championship consecutively from 1975 to 1979, Kuang Lubin, who repeated the feat in the 1979-83 FIBA Asia Championship games, and basketball pioneer Huang Boling were also enshrined in the Class of 2023. 

Women basketball legends Li Shihua, Liu Qing and Li Xin, and head coaches Chen Daohong and Liu Guiyi were also included in the Class of 2023, Yao announced. 

The 1992 Women's National Team led by head coach Li Yaguang, star athletes such as Zheng Haixia, Cong Xuedi, Liu Qing and Li Xin, who defeated then-powerhouses Cuba in the semifinals 109-70 and bagged a silver (the best record of the Chinese women's team to date) after a final battle with the Unified Team in Barcelona, was named the outstanding team in the Class of 2023. 

As part of the first batch of inductees, Zheng Haixia and Cong Xuedi became Chinese basketball hall of famers earlier this year in the Class of 2022. 

A special tribute was paid to Liu Guiyi, who became captain of the men's national team in 1953 and the national team's head coach in 1981 and introduced the "run and gun" game to the sport. 

Another special tribute was also paid to the 120th Division of the Eighth Route Army Basketball Team. In 1937, the 120th Division of the Eighth Route Army established a basketball team known as the "Artillery Corps Basketball Team."  

The team carried out training and games in-between fights on the battlefield, and they boosted the physicality and morale of the troops, inspiring courage and fearlessness during the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) said China's basketball vice chief Xu Jicheng on Thursday. 

This team wasn't just a sports entity but also a symbol of historical and cultural importance in China, intertwining sports with the country's broader social and historical narratives. 

Their recognition by China's basketball society underscores the deep connections between sports, history, and cultural identity in China.

The Chinese Basketball Hall of Fame is dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating basketball at every level in China. The inductees include players, coaches, referees, and outstanding contributors, according to the association.

Association officials at the event told the Global Times that the 2023 class selection gave more consideration to the sports legends active from 1949 to 1974, and stressed that their contribution to sports should be commemorated by all and their great spirits should be passed down through the generations. 

The selection is also hoped to be of special educational value to the current men's basketball team, which is experiencing quite some hardship with struggling performance in international competitions.