Shoemaker leaves role after seven highly successful years
The National Basketball Association announced on Tuesday that David Shoemaker will step down as CEO of NBA China.
The Canadian, who began the role in June 2011, leaves the role with the league's business booming in its biggest overseas market.
He will continue to lead NBA China through the current season and will play an active role in the recruitment of his successor.
"Under David's leadership, our game and business in China have seen unprecedented popularity and growth," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
"We are grateful for David's contributions during his tenure as CEO and are fortunate that he'll be with us through the season to assist with the transition."
Speaking to China Daily in his office in Beijing, Shoemaker described his decision to leave the Chinese capital as "bittersweet and very emotional".
"It's been an incredibly rewarding seven years for me here. We've accomplished amazing things," said the 46-year-old from Ottawa.
"But it's a perfect time to part as the business has never been stronger and the NBA has never been more popular in China."
Under Shoemaker's leadership, the NBA has developed into arguably the most successful professional sports league in China, boasting a ginormous fan base and unrivalled media exposure.
One of the major achievements of his tenure was the NBA's partnership with internet service provider Tencent to live stream a record number of games and deliver content to PC and mobile platforms.
A total of 453 million viewers watched the NBA on Tencent last year, while another 750 million tuned in on TV.
The NBA's numbers on Chinese social media also reflect it unparallel popularity here — 140 million followers, the most of all sports leagues, while the league has attracted a record number of marketing partners — 24.
"The success has exceeded my expectations from 2011. I wouldn't have imagined it could become so successful," said Shoemaker, who served as President of the Women's Tennis Association before joining the NBA.
"From expanding the broadcast of our games to establishing elite NBA academies as well as landmark partnerships in both the private and public sectors – there is so much energy and momentum around the league's business and the game of basketball in China. It's been incredible to be part of it."
Another notable feat under Shoemaker's watch was a partnership with the Ministry of Education, signed in October 2014 and expanded in June 2015, to add basketball to school curricula across the country.
This term, over two million students from 2,000 schools have learned their hoops skills from the NBA curriculum.
The league has furthered its educational reach at three NBA-standard basketball academies in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, while the NBA's first high-performance training center in China opened in 2011 in Dongguan, Guangdong province.
"I have high confidence that the NBA will become even more popular, and because more and more Chinese are starting to play the game, it's just a matter of time before we see a steady stream of Chinese playing in the NBA. That day is not too far away."
Shoemaker believes technological developments will play a big part in shaping his successor's to-do list.
"The new technologies such AR and VR (augmented and virtual reality) have opened up new opportunities to keep developing the NBA China brand and business to new frontlines," he said.
Shoemaker's total 10-year stint (including his WTA period) in China has not only been a resounding professional success.
He met his wife Jennifer Hsiung, a Canadian TV news anchor who works for Chinese Central Television, here and the couple now have three children.
"We've really enjoyed our lives here. I am very pleased that our children grew up here, learning the language and culture, but it's time to go home," he said.