There were a bunch of NBA scouts in China over the weekend to look at future top ten pick Yi Jianlian. The scouts were there to see Yi's Guangdon Tigers take on the Bayi Rockets in the Chinese Basketball Association championship, but the 19 year old Yi (24 points, 8 rebounds) wasn't the player who made an impression.
True NBA fans know Wang Zhizhi, who played 5 forgettable seasons with the Mavericks, Clippers and Heat and became the first Chinese player ever to play in the NBA. He has since returned to China and coincidentally, played in Sunday's game. And played quite well. The 7-footer shot 10-12 for 22 points and 8 boards to help the Bayi Rockets steal Game 1 on the road. Since his return to China, the 29 year-old is turning heads once again back at his former place of employment, the NBA.ZhiZhi played in 60 games for the Mavericks from 2000-2002. His 01-02 season with Dallas, when he averaged 5.6pts and 2reb in 10 mpg, was his most successful in the NBA.
I'll always remember him most for disappearing after the 2002 season. Wang dropped off the face of the Earth in the offseason and Mavs officials were completely unable to contact him. There were even rumors he was trying to defect from China. The real story was far less interesting -- he'd just been hanging out in LA all summer, but before he was found the "Where's Wang" jokes provided tons of entertainment.