Members of Georgetown University's basketball team held a session with the Chinese military team, the Bayi Rockets, one day after their chair-throwing on-court brawl led to an abrupt end to their "friendly" exhibition game and prompted an online outpouring of disgust by Chinese fans.
BEIJING — Members of Georgetown University’s basketball team held a makeup session with the Chinese military team, the Bayi Rockets, one day after their chair-throwing, on-court brawl led to an abrupt end to their “friendly” exhibition game and prompted an online outpouring of disgust by Chinese fans.
A statement on the Georgetown team’s website said the two sides met Friday after “heated exchanges in an exhibition game Thursday evening.” The statement said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III and Bayi Coach Adi Jiang and their team members “shared a very cordial and friendly meeting.”
“Coaches and players exchanged handshakes during the amicable gathering,” the statement said. It said Georgetown players Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson and Bayi players Chen Yu and Lehei De took part.
The Chinese foreign ministry earlier said that the two sides had met and exchanged souvenirs, and that some Bayi team members went to the airport Friday before the Georgetown team left for Shanghai, where the two teams are scheduled to play each other again.
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“My understanding is that it’s all cleared up,” Cui Tiankai, the vice foreign minister, was quoted as saying.
Thursday evening’s brawl, which included punches, kicks and several players and fans wielding chairs and throwing full water bottles, came as Vice President Joseph Biden was in Beijing on a mission to enhance cooperation between the United States and China. The Thursday game officially ended in a tie, 64-64.
Biden had attended a game Wednesday, when Georgetown — in China on a 10-day goodwill trip — played a different team.
The brawl threatened to overshadow Biden’s trip and became a deep source of embarrassment to some Chinese “Netizens” who voiced their views in online forums, even as the government’s media censors tried to suppress any mention of the game, and the brawl, from news websites.
“The Chinese side gave Biden a big gift by having a brawl with the Georgetown team,” said one Internet poster, using the name Fifty Cents Pig, writing on the popular Weibo microblogging site.
Another Weibo user, writing under the name Wang Jiongxun, made an oblique reference to the army’s role in crushing a student uprising at Tiananmen Square in 1989. “So many years have passed, but our soldiers still like to conflict with college students,” the user wrote. “And this time, it escalated into international dispute.”
Chinese sports teams and their fans are notorious for often-violent behavior. Soccer matches held at Beijing’s Worker’s Stadium regularly draw out extra police reinforcements to prevent supporters from opposing sides from clashing. And last year, the coach of China’s national basketball team and three players were suspended after a brawl with the Brazilian team.
Still, Georgetown appeared set to continue its goodwill trip in Shanghai on Sunday, while the Duke University team, which is also playing exhibition games in China, was scheduled to continue with its plans to meet the Chinese Olympics basketball team in a match in Beijing on Monday.
The Georgetown statement said the two teams presented each other with autographed basketballs during their reconciliation meeting.
The brawl came just as the Chinese Basketball Association, or CBA, announced it would not accept contracted players from the NBA coming to play in China, when the season begins Nov. 20. Many players were looking to come to China to play if the current NBA lockout, which began in July, continues.
According to reports in the state-run media, the CBA said Friday it would take NBA players only if they agreed to play a full season in China.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.