What's in a name? Dallas Mavericks announce new Mandarin moniker
Ty Lawson
The Dallas Mavericks have announced their new Chinese name ending a five-month rebranding campaign in the NBA's biggest global market.
The Mavs new Chinese name is Dú Xíng Xiá, which translates roughly in English to “Lone Ranger Heroes.”.
The team made the announcement Wednesday night during halftime while hosting the Golden State Warriors, effectively ending what team officials feel was a decade-long mis-perception of the Mavericks' brand in China.

What's in a name?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban before NBA game against the New York Knicks February 24, 2014,‍ at Madison Square Garden in New York.      / AFP

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban before NBA game against the New York Knicks February 24, 2014,‍ at Madison Square Garden in New York.      / AFP

In China, the Mavericks are currently called "Xiao Niu", meaning little cow, by broadcasters, journalists, experts, and fans. The term first appeared in Chinese state-run media and was subsequently picked up by others. Recently, some began to question if the name was misrepresenting the horse in the team's logo.
When the Mavs owner and tech billionaire Mark Cuban found out about this misrepresentation last year he posted a video on Chinese social media asking fans to help them come up with a new Chinese name for the NBA team.
In a video message last September to the team’s 1.8 million followers on microblogging platform Weibo, Cuban announced that his club was working with Tencent, the tech company that owns the NBA’s broadcast rights in China, to come up with a new Mandarin moniker. 
He explained that they would be interviewing “translation experts, basketball legends, and fans” for their suggestions after which they would have a public vote on the final name.
The Mavericks made history in 2001 when they signed Wang Zhizhi, the first NBA player from China. 
The NBA’s love affair with China – and vice versa – dates back to when the Washington Bullet visited the country in 1979.
NBA fans in China. /VCG Photo

NBA fans in China. /VCG Photo

The love affair also included a number of exhibition games over the years bringing some of the NBA's biggest names to China. Cementing their commitment, the NBA opened an office in Beijing in 2002. 
A few weeks later, Yao Ming became the third and without question one of the most celebrated Chinese players to join the NBA after Mengke Bateer. Despite a time difference that coincided with the Chinese morning rush hour, NBA games frequently were watched by at least 10 million people in China that year, according to the New York Times. 
Houston Rocket's Tracy McGrady and  Yao Ming/ VCG Photo

Houston Rocket's Tracy McGrady and  Yao Ming/ VCG Photo

Recognizing the importance of its fan base in China in 2003, the NBA started offering All-Star game ballots in three languages - Chinese, Spanish, and English - for fans around the globe to vote for their favorite players.
NBA fans in China.  / VCG Photo‍

NBA fans in China.  / VCG Photo‍

A league of their own

Basketball has seen an unprecedented rise in popularity in China since 1987 when the NBA started selling the game footage to the all-sports television channel of China Central Television (CCTV). 
The NBA's official blog in China has over 33 million fans. Its website has over 8.6 million registered fans. Currently, there are more than 70 million NBA followers on Weibo and WeChat in China.
Establishing league offices in Beijing and now Shanghai, along with player visits, have proven to be brilliant moves made by the NBA to garner interest in basketball throughout China. Furthermore, the exhibition games have also enabled the NBA to capitalize on a virtually untapped market of more than one billion people. 
The name change by the Mavericks could prove to be a smart move as NBA coverage in China is growing faster than ever following the league’s five-year partnership with Tencent back in 2015.  The league is also spreading its presence in the Asian country, with Kobe Bryant even planning to establish China’s first NBA basketball school.