I wanted to add one quick thought to the piece. Levin quotes Coach Donewald regarding the effect that the Chinese views on education have on the development of basketball players.
"Those who do play on public courts are in their 20s or older, Donewald said, reflecting Chinese society’s traditionally single-minded focus on education. That means most children spend their days and nights studying for tests, not playing pick-up games in the park or practicing in after-school programs. "
Living in China for three years, I agree 100% with Donewald assessments, but I think it is important to note that this problem is not unique to China. Korea, Japan, and Taiwan (all countries with a Confucian tradition) also lose participation in sports as children grow older. Participating in sports in any of these countries is often seen as a sign that you lack the intelligence to perform well academically, so instead you will be an athlete. No "smart" student would be able to sacrifice the two hours a day that one would practice with a sports team.
I do not know if there is any way to reconcile the two sides to this issue without a seismic shift in cultural values.
Just my two cents on a great article . . . And by the way, I disagree that the cupboard is bare for Chinese basketball. They are the best team in East Asia in all divisions and compete with Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan for every Asia-wide title. They need better guard play, but most of the world would kill for their height.