Xinjiang's claiming of the CBA throne several days ago made history for the club, and also unveiled a new chapter in the history of Chinese basketball.
Xinjiang wrapped up a sweeping 4-0 win over Guangdong on April 7 in the best-of-seven finals to become the sixth champion in CBA's 22 years of history, joining the ranks of Bayi, Shanghai, Guangdong, Beijing and Sichuan.
Darius Adams was named MVP for the finals, scoring an average of 34.8 points over the series. Carlos Boozer led Guangdong with an average of 27 points. Andray Blatche contributed 20.3 points for Xinjiang and Guangdong's Donald Sloan scored 18.8 points in the finals.
The past CBA season witnessed a growing intensity of competition, especially after the first round of play-offs, with everyone of the last eight ready to strive for the CBA title and the spectators well entertained.
Shanghai's Jimmer Fredette was a surprise for local supporters and his performance was way beyond expectations for this season. The former Sacramento Kings shooting guard had an average of 37.6 points, helping Shanghai march into the play-offs.
Liaoning's Lester Hudson was also very impressive this season. The CBA veteran contributed an average of 31.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, helping his club make it into the semi-finals, only to be defeated 4-1 by Xinjiang.
In addition to the brilliant performance of foreign players, Chinese basketball fans were delighted to see that the many Chinese young players had become the backbones of their teams. Ding Yanyuhang was just one of the most outstanding home players.
Scoring 24.2 points per game, Ding was the only Chinese player among the top 20 scorers in the past CBA regular season. The 24-year-old was named most valuable domestic player of the regular season. There were four games in which Ding scored at least 40 points this season, and he managed to help his club Shandong get into the play-offs.
Zhou Qi contributed 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds in the finals. Despite the fact that Zhou injured his left thumb in Game 2, the 21-year-old contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds in Game 4, helping Xinjiang clinch their first CBA title since its establishment in 1999.
24-year-old Guo Ailun and 22-year-old Zhao Jiwei both played crucial roles in Liaoning's bid for the CBA championship this season. Guo contributed an average of 19.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists, while Zhao made tremendous progress with 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
The past season also saw significant reforms enacted in the Chinese Basketball Association. Yao Ming, China's only NBA Hall-of-Famer and former backbone of the Chinese national team, was elected to lead the country's basketball governing body.
"The most urgent need now is to reform the CBA league's management and operation, so we can guide the league to ... attract more investment and attention, while enhancing its influence," Yao said in an interview after his appointment.
Another reform, enacted on April 1, saw the tasks of administrative center of basketball, a sub-division of the State General Administration of Sports, transferred to the Chinese Basketball Association, which means the association will take on full responsibility for governing the sport in China.
"This is a great step on the road to reforming Chinese basketball. Meanwhile, we must realize that we still have a long way to go," said Yao.
When the transition is completed, the association will be responsible for the management of national teams, leagues, youth development as well as the development of basketball in society. Under the leadership of the association, Xu Limin, has been appointed head coach of the Chinese women's basketball team.
Yao said in an interview that the new head coach will be responsible for the Chinese women's basketball team as it prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Over the past several years, the CBA has become one of the best leagues in Asia. Meanwhile, the WCBA league is becoming much more influential with the help of the association's work.
Two years ago, China was awarded the right to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Chinese basketball fans have every reason to believe that Chinese basketball has a bright future ahead.