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The NBA's effort to market basketball as a global sport will take the Miami Heat to China in October.
The Heat are scheduled to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Clippers to kick off the NBA preseason.
The first game will take place in Beijing on October 11, with the second coming three days later in Shanghai. The Heat and Clippers are not the only teams going international during the preseason. The Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks will play a game in Montreal, while the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons will face off in Winnipeg.
The Dallas Mavericks will hold exhibitions against European teams in Barcelona and Berlin. The Boston Celtics will face similar competition in Istanbul and Milan.
More than most other NBA teams, the Heat already have somewhat of a presence in China, one of the league's top marketing priorities. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James appear in ads for Nike, Gatorade, McDonald's, and Sprite, among other brands. Both have made marketing trips to China after appearing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Heat have a sponsorship deal with Tsingsao Brewery Co., one of the largest beer brands in the country.
"We are coming off one of our strongest seasons ever and we're pleased our fans will have the opportunity to watch two of the NBA’s most exciting teams compete,” Heidi Ueberroth, President of NBA International said in a release.
The games in China will be the first opportunity to see new Heat players Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis with their new team. However, with Wade and Chris Bosh rehabbing injuries this summer, they might not be ready for their full complement of game minutes by that point.
The Clippers are not a surprising choice to join the Heat in China, since its centerpieces Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are both exciting players with significant exposure through corporate endorsements.
The Heat will be hosting the first game of the NBA season on October 30, a right normally reserved for the defending champion. Their opponent will be announced when the league releases its full schedule later this summer.