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Yi-haw: Texas, the NBA's most Chinese state

Wednesday, 11th January 2012 ~ Maggie ~ Link ~ Comments (0)

Yi Jianlian becomes the fourth Chinese player to join a Texas NBA squad.
Yi Jianlian becomes the fourth Chinese player to join a Texas NBA squad.
After a pair of strong performances with the Dallas Mavericks' D-League team, Yi Jianlian has been called back up to play with the big boys. Yi posted double-doubles (17 points, 11 rebounds; 29 points, 13 rebounds).

The defending champion Mavs are Yi's fourth NBA team in five seasons. He shines in international play, but has never developed into a strong contributor on an NBA team.

Most stories about the Mavs picking up Yi have rightly pointed out that Del Harris, the coach of D-League squad Texas Legends, coached Yi at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. However, they don't normally point out that Harris played a big role in getting then-16-year-old (cough, cough, okay, 18) Yi on the team and making him a starter –even though he was not yet a starter in the CBA. Harris' success as the national team coach in 2004 has helped make him more famous in China than he is in the United States.
Wang Zhizhi (left) became the first Chinese player in the NBA when the Dallas Mavericks drafted him 36th in 1999, but the Chinese army team kept him out of the NBA for two years; the Houston Rockets selected Yao Ming with the first pick in the 2002 draft.
Wang Zhizhi (left) became the first Chinese player in the NBA when the Dallas Mavericks drafted him 36th in 1999, but the Chinese army team kept him out of the NBA for two years; the Houston Rockets selected Yao Ming with the first pick in the 2002 draft.


With Yi's arrival on the Mavs, Texas officially and firmly becomes the state with the strongest NBA-China connection. All but one of the five Chinese players who have played in the league have come through Texas (only Sun Yue, Lakers and Knicks, has not). The first (Wang Zhizhi, Dallas Mavericks), the most famous (Yao Ming, Houston Rockets), and the first champion (Mengke Bateer, San Antonio Spurs) all balled in Texas. The only other state to host more than one is California, with brief quiet stints for Sun on the Lakers and Wang on the Clippers.

Bateer didn't get much playing time, but he was the first from his country to get a ring, with the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs
Bateer didn't get much playing time, but he was the first from his country to get a ring, with the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs

Yi in Mavs jersey image: JWB.com.cn

Tags: basketball, Dallas Mavericks, Del Harris, Mengke Bateer, NBA, Sun Yue, Wang Zhizhi, Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian

Around the Web: A basketball MVP, a tennis upset, and an unpopular proposal for soccer

Saturday, 20th March 2010 ~ Maggie ~ Link ~ Comments (0)

Mengke Bateer who, unbeknownst to many a casual fan, was the first Chinese player to win an NBA championship, was selected as this season's MVP for the Chinese Basketball Association. The big guy averaged 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. It looks to me like this is a chance to honor one of China's most historically important players who will probably retire soon (Bateer is 35) than it does like a recognition of a stellar 2009-10 season. Bateer's Xinjiang Guanghui are in second place in league standings, with league playoffs starting next Wednesday. All-Star Weekend is March 20-21 at Wukesong Arena in Beijing.

China's Zheng Jie (seeded 18th) beat Maria Sharapova (seeded 10th) at the BNP Paribas Open, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Sharapova was battling injuries in the match at Indian Wells.

Wei Di, the new chief of the Chinese Football Association, has introduced the apparently unpopular idea of entering China's under-21 national team as the 17th side in the Chinese Soccer League, to give those young players more time playing together. He hopes the plan will help him reach his self-imposed goal of qualifying a team for the FIFA World Cup in 2014, without dismantling the centrally planned football development system. The CSL begins play next week.

Gold medal-winning speed skater Zhou Yang angered some sports officials when she thanked her real mother and not Mother China (Reuters). David Yang at China Sports Review argues that the state has a point.

Tags: basketball, CBA, football, Mengke Bateer, soccer, tennis, Wei Di, Zheng Jie

Giants of Chinese basketball play tonight

Wednesday, 21st October 2009 ~ Maggie ~ Link ~ Comments (0)

Quick, who was the first Chinese guy to play in the NBA?

A. Yao Ming
B. Wang Zhizhi
C. Ma Jian
D. Mengke Bateer

If you guessed Yao Ming, I can't blame you, but you're wrong. Wang Zhizhi was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1999, and suited up two years later. He didn't join the team until the professional season in China was over in the spring of 2001. He went on to play five seasons in the league, with a career average of 9 minutes and 4 points per game.

Okay, I'll give you another chance. Who was the first Chinese player to win an NBA championship?

A. Sun Yue
B. Wang Zhizhi
C. Mengke Bateer
D. Kobe Bryant

Sun Yue got a ring as a Los Angeles Laker last season, despite being relegated to the D-League before the playoffs. But he wasn't the first Chinese player on a championship team. That honor goes to Mengke Bateer, a 6'11" Mongolian who was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in his second season, in time to share in their 2003 championship.

Now that you know who they are, if you're in China, you can watch them play tonight. Wang and Bateer, two aging giants of Chinese basketball, will face each other in the preliminaries of the Chinese National Games tournament. The game comes on at 7 p.m. on CCTV-5.

Wang Zhizhi (left) and Mengke Bateer pose together in 2002.
Wang Zhizhi (left) and Mengke Bateer pose together in 2002.


Wang/Bateer image: Sohu.com

Tags: basketball, Mengke Bateer, national games, NBA, Sun Yue, Wang Zhizhi, Yao Ming

Smush Parker in the CBA finals

Tuesday, 21st April 2009 ~ Maggie ~ Link ~ Comments (2)

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If you're ever going to watch CBA basketball, now is the time to do it.

The Chinese Basketball Association finals start this Friday, featuring the matchup that's been expected all season. Xinjiang (44-6, regular season) will make its first finals appearance ever, facing Guangdong (45-5, regular season), the former team of New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian and the winner of four out of the last five championships.

The two teams are unusual in that they are both led by non-Chinese point guards, unlike most CBA teams that use their two-foreigner allowance to pick up a big man and a shooting guard or swingman. Former Los Angeles Laker Smush Parker, the biggest name left in the league since Bonzi Wells' exit, runs the point for Guangdong, and Myron Allen steers Xinjiang. Also on Xinjiang's team is Mongolian center Mengke Bateer, the first Chinese player to start for an NBA team and the first to win an NBA championship (San Antonio Spurs, 2003).

Smush Parker image: Shanghai Daily

Tags: basketball, CBA, Guangdong Tigers, Mengke Bateer, Smush Parker, Xinjiang