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NBA's Washington Wizards return to China

9/9/2009
Basketball’s Washington Wizards have returned to the Chinese capital of Beijing, 30 years after becoming the first NBA team to visit the country – helping to usher in an era of basketball fever in the nation that went on to produce NBA star player Yao Ming.

It was just months after then US president Jimmy Carter normalised relations with China in 1979, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping invited the reigning NBA champions to visit, which opened up an era of "basketball diplomacy."

Ex-Washington centre and NBA Hall of Famer Wes Unseld said: "It is very humbling and very rewarding to hear the words that 30 years ago we started to begin the process of friendship between our peoples. I take great relish and am very proud to have been a part of something like this."

The Wizards, known at the time as Washington Bullets, played three games in China and captured the imagination of the world's most populous nation.
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