BEIJING (AFP) –
Seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady has arrived in China to a raucous welcome from huge crowds ahead of his debut later this month in the country’s increasingly popular basketball league.
The 33-year-old, who has signed a one-year deal for Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles, flew into his new home town on the eastern coast on Wednesday and was greeted by about 2,000 screaming fans, the China Daily newspaper reported.
“For myself, I just want to go out and make my team better,” the state-run paper quoted him as saying. “I hope whatever we do, we can look back and say we gave it our all.”
The 2.03-metre (6-feet 8-inch) forward is the latest NBA player to choose China for a lucrative stint in their sunset years. Former NBA superstar Stephon Marbury led the Beijing Ducks to a first Chinese championship last season.
Former All-Star Gilbert Arenas is also reportedly on the verge of signing a deal to play for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
McGrady is popular and well known to Chinese fans after his years playing alongside the now-retired Yao Ming — one of China’s most popular athletes — with the Houston Rockets.
The 17-team Chinese Basketball Association season starts at the end of November.