Thursday, August 31, 2006

War of the Words

There are tons of sports newspapers in China, and not surprisingly, the opinions of the game against Greece were very varied.

But, among the inconsequential opinions published by miniscule writers (in both stature and power), the voice of the many of the day shines through.

Yao was clearly disappointed by this performance of his team, although he didn't say so it in so many words. So, as politely as he could, he said:

We cannot make enough progress by the national league alone: it's like trying to build a cart without knowing how.

Chinese players have to go overseas to play. I mean, they should go there alone and fight for their positions on the teams. This is the only way to lift the overall level of Chinese basketball

He didn't exactly order the Chinese basketball officals around, but he came as close as he dared. Now, those same officals have a Yao-sized egg in their face. They certainly can't deny it, as any Chinese basketball fan would say the same. They can't rebuke Yao, either (at least not in public), as Yao is too big internationly for them to do that, and they would be criticized themselves for rebuking someone who is speaking the truth. They could simply remain passive, but then they would lose face.

So, it appears the only way they're going to wipe the egg off their face is if they actually send their promising young players to the European leagues. Since they're aiming for a medal in two years at the Olympics, they should immediately send Yi Jianlian and Chen Jianghua to a European league. Yi will already play a year in the NBA before the Olympics, but going to Europe will help smooth the transitition between the CBA and the NBA. Hopefully, if Chen plays in a more controlled game in Europe that emphasises a passing game, then he could learn to play under control, and learn maybe even better than if he was in the NBA. Two years in a Euro league, and he'll be much improved when playing in the Olympics, and then maybe enter the NBA in the year after.

Seems like a good idea? To me, to you, to just about every fan of Chinese basketball, the answer would be yes. But to the bigwigs that control the CBA, then the answer, very possibly, could be no. I can somewhat understand their concern, because when your guys go the Euro league, or to the NBA, then you simply lose your investment. The Shanghai Sharks used to be champions, but now that Yao's gone, they're no better than a consistent lottery team (well, there is no lottery in the CBA). That is a valid point, but I think if you look at it in the long-term, then you can see the benefits.

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