It will be intriguing to see what punishment, if any, the Rockets receive. This is not a random club, but the People’s Liberation Army team, for decades the centerpiece of the Chinese sports system. The PLA teams — called Bayi, or 8-1, for the date of the army’s founding — plucked the best young athletes from around the nation. Known for their brutal training regimens, PLA teams were so dominant in China from the 1950s through the 1980s that they were de facto national teams, and symbols of the country’s strength.
Mao’s sports system remains largely intact. But with the influx of foreign stars and commercialization in the Chinese professional league, the Bayi Rockets (the only team not allowed to field foreigners) are now just a middling squad with a reputation for pugnacious play. Even so, the players still view themselves as soldiers, the defenders of China.
NOW it makes sense.