Rafer Alston was supposed to be in southern costal China today.
Zhejiang Guangsha, the team Skip was planning to work out for, bought him a plane ticket scheduled to leave from New York yesterday at the ungodly hour of 4 am, scheduled to arrive in Shanghai at the even more ungodly hour of 3am today. With another flight to the province’s capital, Hangzhou, management figured a full day was necessary to show Skip around town, get him familiar with the team, make their pitch and have him signed as quickly as possible.
One major problem — Alston never got on the plane, so says the Qianjing Evening News. According to the article, Zhejiang called him at three in the morning to confirm that he was getting on board the flight. Instead, they got his agent who informed him that Alston wasn’t.
Perhaps sensing exasperation on the other end of the line, probably after hearing more than a few wo caos, the same agent told them that Alston wanted to talk with team management at around 10pm local time in China (10am New York) to talk about the coaching staff and the system they’re planning to implement. Ten o’clock rolled around… no phone call. Zhejiang was once again only able to get in touch with his agent, who said Alston was too tired to talk on the phone and was about to go to bed. Eventually, he confided that Skip had some stuff going on in NYC and was having second thoughts about a move to China, and he hoped Zhejiang could give him an extra day to get everything straight.
Zhejiang’s GM, Ye Xiangyu is bu man, “not satisfied” with being stood up two times in seven hours: ”Throughout, we haven’t had a conversation with Alston himself, it’s always been with his agent. Regardless, Alston is an adult and he should have his own ability to make judgement. Our import player who played for here before, Jelani McCoy, voluntarily talked with Alston and said that we can relax.”
“We can wait and see, but not for too long. If Alston doesn’t come again, we’re going to have to change up our plan and find another import immediately.”
Can’t blame Ye for being frustrated. Not only did he probably plan all this stuff for Skip’s big day in Hangzhou, he probably wasted a sweet bouquet of flowers, too. In China, it’s commonplace for high-profile visitors to receive flowers upon their arrival at the airport, the hotel, the banquet, the conference, the — well, I think you get it. Stephon Marbury knows a lot about that.
Alston’s not only pissing people off in Zhejiang, either. The team who Alston has reportedly been in contact with for the last three weeks, Qingdao Double Star, is upset that he’s going to visit and work out with another rival team. A newspaper in Qingdao is quoting the team’s GM, Sheng Xishun, as saying “If everything on the internet right now is true and Alston really is going to Zhejiang first to work out, then we’re not his first choice. There’s no way we can confirm this piece of news either, but if its true, there’s no way we’d want him. That’s extremely disrespectful to our club.”
Then, he went on to downplay Alston’s importance to the club: “There’s still a lot NBA players available because every team is cutting players right now. There’s a good opportunity to sign an import…”
Tough to know what’s really going on at this point. If Zhejiang did in fact buy Alston a ticket and there was an agreement in place as to when he was landing in Shanghai, then they have a legitimate gripe. Qingdao, not so much. I’m struggling to understand how a team can complain about being second choice when they themselves have publicly stated that Alston is their second choice behind Von Wafer.
Alston’s been in touch with Qingdao, but he’s going to work out with Zhejiang first and Zhejiang wants Wafer and now Alston missed his filght… the whole thing is just flat weird right now. If Alston really is having second thoughts, then he needs to make a decision quick as both teams seem ready to move on.
Quick recommendation to Zhejiang: If you’re going to buy another plane ticket, book Skip a flight sometime in the afternoon.