Tang Zhengdong is happy to finally be in Xinjiang with the chance to win a championship.
On year after threatening to sit out the entire 2010-11 season, Tang Zhengdong is finally in Xinjiang wearing a Flying Tiger jersey.
According to Sina Sports, Xinjiang Guanghui will pay Jiangsu Nangang, the team Tang has spent his entire career with, a fee of RMB 5 million (roughly $930,000). In addition, Xinjiang will send 24 year-old center, Song Kangming over to Jiangsu as part of the deal.
Rumored with Xinjiang for over a year, Tang’s move comes after a lengthy on-again, off-again saga between Tang and Jiangsu. Unhappy with the downward direction of the franchise and their unwillingness to increase player salaries, Tang held out for the entire pre-season last season and even sat out the regular season opener in order to try and force his way out. Jiangsu never budged, and Tang ended up playing a lackluster, half-hearted, injury-filled season in Nanjing.
Tang was first reported to be headed to Xinjiang in late July. The move was likely delayed due to last-ditch efforts by the Jiangsu Provincial Sports Bureau, the provincial government sports body who runs the team, to block the move. Like many players raised up in the Chinese professional basketball system, the Jiangsu-born Tang has been trained and housed by the team since he first entered their youth academy as a teen. To Jiangsu, letting Tang walk away from his home club would be against the interest of the team and the provincial government, as it would take away from the prestige and recognition from the club.
In the end, however, Jiangsu decided it wasn’t worth all of the trouble to keep a player who clearly did not want be with the club anymore. Speaking to reporters, Tang expressed his desire to win a championship as the key reason why he decided to leave for Western China. But, he did have nice words for Jiangsu and the fans that have rooted him on throughout the years.
“I want to sincerely thank Jiangsu for raising me up all of these years,” said Tang. “No matter where I’m playing basketball, I’ll always be from Jiangsu. I’d also like to thank all of my fans for supporting me through the years.”
For Xinjiang, the move stands to their obsession with winning their first ever CBA championship. Xinjiang has made the Finals the last three seasons, but have ultimately come up short of a championship against Guangdong Hongyuan each time. In addition to signing Tang, Xinjiang brought back star American import, Quincy Douby, for a record contract and signed current Chinese Men’s National Team head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., away from Shanghai to be their head man for this season.
Adding Tang should give them another boost this year. Playing next to two-time reigning CBA MVP, Mengke Bateer, Xinjiang will sport arguably the biggest and most skilled Chinese big-man combo in all of China. A three-time CBA MVP himself, the seven foot Tang will give Xinjiang an added size and offensive on the low block. Since his debut season with the senior team in 2003-04, Tang has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in five different seasons.
Last year Tang averaged 21.4 minutes, 13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds over 33 games.