Yi Jianlian Needs To Stay In China And Not Come Over At All

By Greg Moore
Updated: July 20, 2007

SAN ANTONIO — Yi Jianlian, his Chinese representatives or somebody over near the Great Wall is complaining and thinking that the Milwaukee Bucks are not a good fit for him. They want to run the show. Well here’s a newsflash for him and his Chinese contingent; you are not in a position to run the NBA.

I’m going to don on the American flag for a moment and tout why the NBA is a far better product that Jianlian could ever get in his homeland. It’s one thing and that thing is exposure.

Yi may be this great talent in China but he is very much suspect in a league where everyone is a great player. Chen Haitao, Guangdong Tigers chief, and everyone else in that camp isn’t getting the bigger picture.

The mere fact that Haitao and others think that a multi-million basketball team cannot help Yi’s game is nothing short narrow minded and if that is the case and the way they want to think, then maybe Yi is better served never playing in the NBA.

This situation is actually deeper than just U.S./China relations. Both countries aren’t going to lose any money by Yi not coming over and to the thousands of Chinese Americans living in Milwaukee, think of it as a blessing that you do not have to root for someone who doesn’t care about your community.

Every word that Yi’s people are saying is another nail in the European coffin for someone who is truly deserving. I’ll go on record and say that the Bucks made a big mistake taking this player with the sixth pick.

They could have gotten him in the second round and that goes for any team in the league. This player was not, nor is he, first round material. The attitude that the Chinese contingent is taking hurts other Euro players more than they ever can believe.

There are thousands of players over in Europe and Asia who believe that the NBA is the pinnacle of success and that ANY team is a good fit for them. Yet Haitao and others in Yi’s camp are thinking the opposite and that is an elitist stance that hashes up old wounds and why many do not want foreign players in the league to begin with.

What’s probably worse is the fact that the league’s most recognizable Chinese player, Yao Ming (or is Ming Yao??) hasn’t said a word about this situation. Now maybe that is because his own people are saying stay away from this situation and that’s not a bad idea.

Yi’s people need to realize that for Yi it isn’t about playing in a city where there is a large contingent of Chinese immigrants or where he can be commercially marketable. He can live in caves of Neverneverland and be marketable as a professional athlete.

What they do not realize is that Yi has to learn how to be in a new environment no matter where he plays. Milwaukee may actually be a better spot for him than they could ever dream. He’s not the franchise player, nor is he the savior. They have those pieces in Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut.

But if I’m the Bucks GM, I wouldn’t take him today or ever after all of the maneuvering that Yi and his attendees have done now. The NBA doesn’t need Yi Jianlian, Chen Haitao or anyone else for that matter if this is the type of attitude they are taking.

The league will go forth with its China marketing push and with Yao it will be successful. So maybe it’s just time for the Bucks to realize that for once they need to do something very prudent and that is they need to cut ties with Yi Jianlian and his Chinese contingent.

Don’t look for the league to bail them out. If Yi wants out then he and Chen need to cough up the dough and buy his draft rights from the Bucks. Yes, it’s a bold move but the league and other Euro players are better off if this happens. Heck, if Chen and Yi want the best for them and they don’t believe that the Bucks are good enough for them, then no team is good enough for them.

Yi needs to understand that this is an opportunity of lifetime and if he doesn’t want it, then he needs to buy his draft rights and allow somebody else get the chance to be successful in this country.

And for the betterment of the Euro players who want to come over, it’s best that Yi stay in China and never set foot in the NBA.