Related News

Home » Sports » Basketball

Foreign players up the stakes for China

THE aggressive domination of former NBA players in the Chinese basketball league is drawing criticism from a sports system dedicated to developing future Chinese players.

Chinese teams stepped up recruitment abroad this season after new rules allowed them to field two foreign players, a move the Chinese Basketball Association hoped would attract interest in the league and expose players to tougher competition.

High-level imports such as former NBA players Bonzi Wells and Donnell Harvey have, however, refocused virtually every CBA team's strategy around the scoring power of the foreigners, reducing stats and game time for Chinese players.

"In the past it's been guys who were good but more team-oriented," said Jason Dixon, a US import who has played for the Guangdong Tigers for 10 years.

"This year you're finding a lot of high-caliber NBA players.

"Even in college (Americans) are told, 'If you want to play in the NBA, you have to score, you have to have a sense of selfishness,' and I think the Chinese don't understand that."

The CBA's top 15 scorers are all foreigners this season, and the reaction has not been positive.

Dontae Jones, a former Celtics forward now leading the CBA in points scored, has been described by local media such as Titan Sports as a "cancer" on the Beijing Ducks because he shoots too much.

Former NBA guard Wells, who left the league last month, was also blasted by domestic media for pulling down the stats of his teammates by scoring as many as 50 points per game - without improving Shanxi Zhongyu's record.

CBA office director Zhang Xiong agreed that the domination of the imports had been "detrimental for the growth of Chinese players," who now play less. However, increasing play time for imports had also helped to make the CBA more physical and created competition that would force Chinese players to improve, he said.

The CBA has encouraged physical play this season after critics, including Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, said the league's low-contact style was not producing players tough enough for the international game.

"We want to become Asia's best professional league," Zhang said.

"Then we can use this status to send high-level players to the national team and achieve historical breakthroughs at the Olympics and the world championships."

The imports themselves needed to learn about China's culture and adjust to its less individualistic system, he said.

"They are here to help CBA teams play, not just to exhibit their own shooting skills," Zhang said.

One result of the surge of foreign talent into the CBA has been a reversal of fortunes for the once-mighty Bayi Rockets, who have won eight out of 13 championships since the league started.

Bayi is unable to recruit overseas because its players are all officially soldiers.

Known for their rigorous and boot camp-style training, Bayi won the first six CBA titles. This year, however, it has struggled against import-loaded squads and is 20-19 after an eight-loss streak last month.

The team, which produced China's first NBA player, Wang Zhizhi, had developed Chinese talent without recruiting foreign players before, and could do so again, said Xu Jicheng, a top basketball commentator and former member of a junior army team.

"In this sense Bayi spirit is not outdated. It is a strong spirit that Chinese basketball can learn from in the future."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend