NBA: Clippers and Hornets to play two pre-season games in China

TORONTO (REUTERS) - The Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers will play two pre-season games in China, including a first visit to Shenzhen, the National Basketball Association said on Wednesday.

As part of the league's Global Games China 2015 program, the Clippers, led by eight-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul and five-time All-Star Blake Griffin and Hornets will meet in Shenzhen on Oct. 11 and again in Shanghai on Oct. 14.

This will mark the Clippers' second trip to China, following games in Beijing and Shanghai in 2012.

"Basketball is more popular than ever, and Global Games China 2015 is part of our ongoing commitment to growing the game in the world's most populous nation," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.

"These games will not only bring the excitement of NBA action directly to Chinese fans, but will also provide the league another opportunity to experience the rich history and culture of China."

The NBA has has seen immense growth in China since it became the first American professional sports league to compete in the country, with two exhibition games between the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings in 2004.

The NBA claims to be the most popular sports league in China while basketball is the nation's number one team sport, with 300 million people playing the game.