NBA PM: Jordan Faces Legal Battle in China
All Americans, regardless of our economic station, have a level of understanding when it comes to copyrights and our legal system. We know the dangers of making a cartoon mouse or using the phrase “Just Do It” on a t-shirt. We’ve seen enough musical artists sue political candidates over use of their songs to understand a thing or two about intellectual property and copyrighted material; which is why it’s so baffling that a Chinese athletic merchandise company named Qiaodan Sports Co. (“Qiadoan” is the Chinese word for “Jordan” as in “Michael”) has existed for nearly a dozen years without being sued into oblivion.
Well that situation is being changed.
With Qiaodan set to earn 1.06 billion yuan ($168 million) in an initial public offering in Shanghai, according to multiple reports (include one by Bloomberg News), Jordan is suing the company for unauthorized use of his name.
“One thing that was interesting to me was the dichotomy of how this is handled in the U.S. versus China,” Stuart Slotnick, the managing partner of the New York Office for Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney P.C., told HOOPSWORLD.
Slotnick, an expert in the field of copyright law, says Jordan’s case against Qiaodan is greatly complicated by the fact that these proceedings will take place in China as opposed to America.
“Obviously the main difference is that this is Chinese manufacturing being sold to Chinese citizens,” Slotnick said. “If they were importing it in the US, we’d have a restraining order in a day and the battle would be won.
“You’d use United States Marshals, customs agents, you seize everything and you’re done,” he continued. “You can get an injunction or restraining order immediately. In China things may play out differently.”
First off, the legal system in China is written in another language, both literally and figuratively. So for Jordan—who is providing his own legal counsel as opposed to using Nike’s, for whom he heads a division bearing his name—there is an entirely unknown encyclopedia of cultural and legal hurdles to jump through.
“The laws in China are different,” Slotnick said. “The system is different. The language is Chinese. Officially, one may guess that there should be no favoritism toward a Chinese National, but it’s just not known as an American going into their space if the result will differ for that reason alone.”
Qiaodan not only uses Jordan’s name, but they use No. 23 as well in their merchandise, which might help Jordan’s case. As one of the most-recognizable names on the planet, it should be easy to prove that his identity was stolen. Plus, Jordan also helps the Chinese economy through Nike’s operations in the country.
“It’s widely known that Michael Jordan is revered in China,” Slotnick said. “That’s certainly a chip in his stack. There are legal issues that need to be confronted. The fact that he’s a star doesn’t hurt him.”
As for how long this could drag on, nobody knows for sure. Slotnick said this is one of the problems with suing a company in a foreign court, which tends to favor the home team. “This may be a protracted legal matter,” he said.
The company has allegedly never used Jordan’s image in promotions, but that might not be enough to protect them from legal recourse.
“Qiaodan’ is a brand we registered according to Chinese law, and its lawful use should be protected,” Qiaodan said in a statement posted. “We will make further clarification through our website if there’s any development.”
Sacramento Kings forward Chuck Hayes is currently signed to Qiaodan. It’s worth noting that both Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian have won similar court cases in China, but, of course, both players are Chinese citizens.
Rasheed Wallace Returns to the NBA?
Retired big man Rasheed Wallace is coming out of retirement to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, a source told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. Wallace, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since losing to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, was previously bought out of his last contract by the Boston Celtics before the 2010-2011 season.
As Blakely writes, Wallace created a buzz about his return when he showed up in good shape at a Pro-Am tournament in North Carolina over the summer and buoyed the talk by embarking on a new conditioning program that’s left him looking the best he has “in years.”
The Lakers have 14 players, so they won’t have to cut anyone to sign Wallace, who will presumably be Andrew Bynum’s backup at center.
Greg Monroe Takes Off
Maybe you didn’t see the Pistons’ Greg Monroe drop 30 points and grab 14 boards against the Raptors before the All-Star break. Maybe you missed his 24-point, 16-rebound game against the Hornets earlier in the month. Maybe you didn’t know that the former Georgetown star is averaging 16.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG this season, but chances are, you’re going to be made well aware of this guy for years to come.
“I’ve got better at scoring in the post and being more confident,” Monroe, who is competing in the Rookie-Sophomore Game, told reporters on Friday. “My role’s a little bit bigger this year so, there’s more expected of me so I think it’s just a combination of all of that coming together.
“I know had to pay my dues and wait my turn but I definitely like it, it’s something I’m used to,” he continued. “I’ve had a role like this most of my life so I’m happy that people look at me in that light. I just have to make sure that I continue to produce.”
So what’s the big difference now, after averaging just 9.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG as a rookie.
“You have a year under your belt, nothing that can substitute experience,” Monroe said. “When you have that year under your belt you learn so much. You find out what this game is really about and the ins and outs of it and I think that second year is when you make a big turnaround.
“Rebounding, you just have to want it,” he continued. “There’s nothing special. There are physical parts to it but you have to want it more than other men.”
And Monroe isn’t the only player he sees benefitting from a second season of pro ball.
“He’s been putting up some ridiculous numbers, it’s been crazy,” Monroe said of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. “Guys, like I said, guys are going to improve that second year once you get that experience under your belt.”
As for as his own development, Monroe credits new Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, saying the two have “spent countless hours” in the gym and preparing.
Monroe has also taken advantage of his relationship with Pacers center Roy Hibbert, another Georgetown product.
“It’s a close-knit family at Georgetown, we all go back to the summer where we got together,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of guys. We’re all cut from the same cloth, hard workers, always want to improve and I’m very proud of Roy, hope he does well Sunday night. I’ve seen the work he’s put in and I’m very happy for him.”
Monroe still has some room to develop as an interior defensive presence. He may never truly be a great shot blocker, although he has averaged 1.5 per game over the past two months. However, he could grow into a solid defender who denies shots or simply affects opposing shooters. In any case, another improvement like the one he made this season and we’ll be seeing Monroe in the All-Star Game as opposed to just the Rookie-Sophomore exhibition.
Larry Sanders Stays Patient
Second-year Bucks big man Larry Sanders is on the verge of finding his niche in the NBA. Milwaukee has been playing without injured center Andrew Bogut which has given Sanders time at both center and power forward—an opportunity that’s teaching him about his own strengths and weaknesses.
“I think wherever the coach wants to use me,” Sanders told HOOPSWORLD when asked where he prefers to play. “I think I want to be versatile enough where they can rotate me in those two spots and I’ll have an advantage in both places.”
Against centers, Sanders, who had 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in a narrow loss to the Magic last week, tends to have a speed advantage; while he has more of a size advantage against power forwards. In either case, Sanders knows he’s primarily on the floor for his defense, which he feels has gotten better this season.
“I think I did well,” he said of the season’s first half. “I feel a lot more comfortable on the defensive end compared to last year. I feel stronger and just knowing the game a little more, just getting more feeling in big games. I think the more that I play, the better I get.”
Offensively, Sanders is far from a finished product. He isn’t going to hit many mid-range jumpers or develop many post-up moves, which is why he’s focused on “Attacking the rim with my size and my athleticism.”
“With my size, I don’t really back too many guys down, but my feet are quick enough where I can beat them to spots and try to take advantage of that so that’s what I’m working on now,” he continued. “I think that I’ll be able to put those talents to use when the time comes.”
At 13-20, Milwaukee currently sits just outside of the eighth seed in the playoffs, but, with some slight corrections, Sanders thinks he and the Bucks can be better than .500 down the stretch.
“It’s a roller coast of a season right now, trying to find that edge that’s going to give us a couple of wins and, you know, try to get that playoff spot,” he said. “But with that shortened season, you know, everything just sort of zooms by. We’re already at All-Star, the halfway point.”
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