Panini Player of the Day Program Goes Global, Dennis Smith Jr. Meets Fans in China

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Basketball is a global game. If you live in North America, it can be hard to understand just how big the NBA’s reach is around the world. Watching games, breaking down the highlights, prognosticating on who will play way and, yes, collecting cards, are all engrained in our routines. But much of that is localized takes, even if “local” means stations that cover an entire continent.

There’s a whole lot happening in basketball that we don’t see in North America. This is especially true in China. Last year, more than 650 million people watched NBA basketball on TV at some point in the country. Last June during the playoffs, 2.9 billion NBA video clips were streamed.

And as the game expands, so does the hobby’s foothold. Last year, Panini ran their Player of the Game program overseas for basketball collectors. More than 100 hobby shops throughout China and Taiwan took part. Similar to how it’s run in American shops, collectors were eligible for prizes if they found specific players while busting packs. Exclusive POD promo cards, autographs, shirts and Kobe Bryant posters were all handed out.

Panini Player of the Day Poster - China

And then there was the grand prize, which came in the form of an intimate meet-and-greet with Dennis Smith Jr., the Dallas Mavericks point guard who is about to embark on his sophomore season.

Stateside, there’s traditionally one Player of the Day winner who gets to meet with an athlete. This time, it was a little different. On October 3, Panini hosted a full VIP reception for six winners along with local distributors. Smith was in attendance to meet the winners and partners and take photos.

A couple of days later, that same crew were Panini’s guests at the NBA China Game in Shanghai between the Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers.

Dallas may not have won the preseason tilt but Smith and his team gained some new fans from the trip.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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