The CBA has serious ‘time’ issues; from watch deals to clock malfunctions

There’s been some strange issues happening in Chinese basketball regarding time. While those in the West set their clocks back an hour for daylight savings time, the Chinese Basketball Association are setting their clocks back in the middle of games, and at the same time breaking time sponsorship contracts.

Yes, I know this sounds crazy, and it is. So before getting into the details, one must understand that the CBA (technically) has nothing to do with their sponsorship deals. The CBA has been dealing with a Swiss based marketing company called InFront for a very long time. Way back during the CBAs first couple of years, InFront was chosen ahead of the NBA who offered their own marketing team to help with the business side of basketball.

Thus far, inFront has been doing quite well in bringing in foreign sponsorship. But something is up with their latest mishap causing TAG Heuer to lawyer up and take them to court.

A couple of weeks ago, TAG Heuer started noticing something very bizzare with their Chinese partners. The CBA started advertising Tissot on tickets and even giving them arena banners in selected cities. Seeing how TAG Heuer owned the sole rights to being the official “timekeeper” of the CBA, the new Tissot ads seemed odd. This made a couple of the TAG Heuer China reps pretty angry. They decided to pull out from their sponsorship before being granted by the Beijing courts to sue InFront China.

Tissot CBA Partnership

InFront China answered a week later by named Tissot their new official “timekeeper” signing a five-year agreement which covers all of the league’s games, including the play-offs and the annual CBA All-Star Game.

It gets even weirder. It was later revealed that InFront signed Tissot in October 2015 without even realizing they already had an official timekeeper. The Tissot deal was suspended after two weeks (probably because TAG Heuer found out) but was re-instated once TAG Heuer pulled out to take them to court.

It’s just business as usual in China.

Speaking of business as usual in China, have you ever heard of home teams getting the benefit of the calls from the refs? That’s old news, but what’s new is the latest trend of putting time back on the clock when you’re team is down.

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In round 4 of CBA action, two separate teams performed the same cheating formula. Shanghai was down two with 3:47 left in the game when suddenly the time keeper added a minute on the clock. Fujian was in Dongguan leading by 10 with 1:42 left when… you guess it, a minute was added to the clock to give the home team more time to catch up.

Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of

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