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Tag Archives: Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons

Boss Wang to sell Shanxi Zhongyu; team to move to Beijing

April 30, 2013



With his eccentric behavior, can’t miss quotes and and in-game diagramming of plays, Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons owner, Wang Xingquan, better known to many as “Boss Wang,” has been one of the most newsworthy and entertaining figures in the Chinese Basketball Association over the last eight years.

Count us among the many who will miss writing about all of it.

Confirming the longtime rumors that had been swirling about for the last several months, the Brave Dragons will be sold to a Beijing-based investment group, who upon completion of the transaction will move the club to China’s capital city for the 2013-14 season. According to Sina, Beijing Enterprises Group Co. Ltd. has reached an agreement to pay CNY 120 billion (US $194.5 million) CNY 120 million ($19.4 million), a price which includes the rights to all of the club’s senior and second team players, including imports Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines.

The move marks Beijing Enterprises first foray into professional basketball. […]


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Book Review: Brave Dragons

February 22, 2013


NiuBBall.com Brave Dragons

I still remember trying to convince my mother-in-law to watch the superb documentary Hoop Dreams, a window into poverty, race, sport and education in America. (If you haven’t seen it, you should. The book is also highly recommended.) This was a few years ago, and she did finally watch it. The review was fairly brief: “My dear, that most certainly was about basketball! But there were some interesting parts.”

Brave Dragons by the American journalist Jim Yardley, really is about the Shanxi Brave Dragons (based in Taiyuan), their unpredictable owner (Boss) Wang Xingjiang, their 2008-09 season in the Chinese Basketball Association, and about Bob Weiss, the first former NBA bench boss to work in China, and the very mixed bag of players he had to work with. (I remember the chronically slump-shouldered Weiss, with a pained expression on his face, imploring referees or his Seattle Supersonics players to listen. Were I older, I’d remember him as a resilient, nothing-keeps-me-out-of-the-game player for the Chicago Bulls. Both of these qualities made him the perfect person to try to coach in Taiyuan under Boss Wang.) It spotlights the babes-in-the-Chinese-woods that wide-eyed young Americans, imported for their superior skill, are in adjusting to hoops with Chinese characteristics. Anybody who enjoys NiuBBall is going to love Brave Dragons, and Jon has been recommending it for months.




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Plenty on the line in CBA’s final weekend

February 15, 2013



With both a playoff spot and the individual scoring title on the line, Zhejiang’s Quincy Douby has a lot on his plate this weekend.

It goes by quickly, doesn’t it? After a week-long Spring Festival break, the Chinese Basketball Association’s 34-round regular season will come to a close this Sunday. And while Guangdong, Shandong and Beijing have already locked up the top three spots, there’s still plenty of stuff going on below them. To help everyone out, let’s go over what everyone should be watching for over these last two games.



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Eyenga replaces Williams in Shanxi; McCants on the way out in Foshan?

January 9, 2013



After playing the last five games without Marcus Williams — the previous three of which have been losses — the Shanxi Brave Dragons have officially signed a long-term replacement.

Christian Eyenga, who was drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009, has formally been announced as Shanxi’s newest foreign player and has already linked up with the team in Taiyuan. According to Chinese media, the league has received Eyenga’s letter of clearance and he will thus be available to play in tonight’s nationally televised game against Fujian SBS.

Before signing in China, Eyenga was playing in the D-League with the Texas Legends. Eyenga played two seasons in the NBA with the Cavaliers and with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 6.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 51 total appearances.



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Quincy Douby scores 75 to set CBA all-time single game points record

January 3, 2013

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Zhejiang Chouzhou’s Quincy Douby scored 75 points to break the CBA’s all-time single game scoring record. (Photo: Osports)

The already considerable legend of Quincy Douby in China just grew even larger.

The Zhejiang Chouzhou star scored an incredible 75 points tonight in a 154-129 win over visiting Shanxi Zhongyu to become the Chinese Basketball Association’s record holder for most points in a single game.

The previous record was held by Andre Emmett, who scored 71 in March 2010 while playing for Shandong Kingston.

Douby’s latest brush with Chinese basketball history is only his latest, however. With the CBA all-time single game record in hand, Douby now owns scoring records for the regular season, the finals (53) and the All-Star Game (44).

Douby reached his record on 23-38 shooting, including 9-15 from three and 16-20 from the free-throw line. Entering the fourth quarter, the 6-3 guard had amassed 47 points before going off for 28 points in the game’s final frame, which is now the third highest mark in league all-time single quarter scoring.

Douby surpassed Emmett’s record after hitting a free-throw on the end of an and-one late in the quarter.

But what’s even more incredible is that he could have scored more. With both the game and the record in hand, he was subbed out with a little over three minutes in the contest after logging just under 36 minutes of on-court time.

And yet, there’s even more. Charles Gaines, who played as Shanxi’s lone import after his teammate, Marcus Williams, was suspended by the league for testing positive for marijuana, recorded his own ridiculous stat line of 60 points and 29 rebounds.

With the win, Zhejiang is now in 10th place at 8-8 while Shanxi slips to 11-5.


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Marcus Williams banned from CBA after testing positive for marijuana

January 3, 2013


Shanxi Zhongyu’s Marcus Williams has been banned for six months from the Chinese Basketball Association after testing positive for marijuana.

He is the first player in the league’s 18-year history to test positive for drugs.

On his Sina Weibo account, Williams expressed regret for the incident and vowed to come back better from it: “To all the CBA fans, Shanxi fans, sponsors, as well as my coaches and players I sincerely apologize. I have let a lot of people down and I regret it more then anything. I understand everyone’s disappointment and I will do everything to improve and grow from this.

Williams, who had been the league’s leading scorer, was averaging 30.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists for the third-placed Brave Dragons.

The story, however, is not as simple as it seems. Though marijuana use is both illegal in China and in the CBA, both the language inside of Chinese media being used to describe the incident as well as the overall timing come as a bit odd. Media reports have used the word “stimulant” or “performance enhancing drug” (兴奋剂) when detailing Williams’ case, despite the fact that marijuana is not recognized anywhere on the planet as such. And that’s not the only thing that sticks out as strange, as Anthony Tao writes over at Beijing Cream:

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here: pot. It’s not a performance enhancement drug, and it’s barely illegal in many parts of North America. But one case of it in the CBA and suddenly everyone’s all, We should conduct MORE tests, improve regulations. Why is this a bigger issue than, say, point-shaving, and shitty refereeing?

China Anti-doping Agency agreed that more tests needed in the basketball professional league.

“The truth is there were not many tests done in the basketball league,” said Zhao Jian, vice director of CHINADA, adding that a total of 12 tests were conducted by far this season.

Twelve tests. Total. And the league’s leading scorer on one of the most controversial teams in the league — Shanxi’s owner, “Boss Wang,” is the type to not care about upsetting others — just happens to get caught? Something seems a bit fishy.

This year marked his fourth season in China for the 26 year-old Williams, who has grown into one of the best and most respected players in the league. Revered around the league for being both a good player and a good teammate, he will be missed by both the team and fans of the league.

It was announced today that Williams will be replaced my former UCONN recruit, Nate Miles.

More on this from us later.


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One game into the season, Boss Wang has struck again

November 27, 2012


Only one game into the season, Boss Wang looks ready to swap coaches.

It didn’t take long, but Shanxi Brave Dragons owner, Wang Xingjiang, or “Boss Wang,” has stolen the many headlines from around the league (Arenas’ injury, McGrady’s turnover and Xinjiang’s big win being the top three). And like always, it involves matters of his team’s head coach. Who at the moment is Jesus Mateo.

Key word: At the moment.

The situation as we understand it is as follows: Mateo, who had coached previously in Spain with Malaga, became the head man in Taiyuan after last year’s coach, Yang Xuezeng, elected not to re-sign with the team in favor of signing with Zhejiang Chouzhou. Mateo arrived in late August and began to run practices, prepare for the new season and generally take over all the responsibilities that a head coach is expected to take over.

But as loyal NiuBBall readers know, the Brave Dragons are a special team, a fact that can be completely attributed to their eccentric owner, “Boss Wang” Wang Xingjiang. Known for his intense meddling, Wang — who is by all accounts completely crazy about basketball — puts his hands into every aspect of his team, from youth development, player psychology and film sessions to morning walkthroughs and even the odd in-game play diagramming. Needless to say, the team hasn’t enjoyed sustained success since he bought the team in 2003; not totally surprising when you consider the man has had no formal playing or coaching experience of any kind during his lifetime.



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McGrady’s turnover, Gaines’ buzzer beater highlight CBA’s opening round

November 25, 2012

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The Chinese Basketball Association has officially started after Round 1 of the 2012-13 season wrapped up tonight.

And save for Gilbert Arenas’ untimely hip flexor last night, we don’t think it could have started any better.

There’s an overtime game in Shanxi to get to as well as Xinjiang’s impressive home win over Guangdong, but no doubt the game everyone wil be talking about will be Fujian’s dramatic buzzer beater to spoil Tracy McGrady’s debut with Qingdao.

Oh, and that turnover.

The script was set up for a storybook start to the season. T-Mac, who was excellent overall amassing 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, set up in an isolation with the game tied at 92 and the shot clock off. “The whole world is expecting McGrady to get the ball here,” the announcer said. And probably everyone watching was expecting that once he got the ball, he was going to send the Eagles home with a win.

But what happened instead, nobody could have predicted. Being pressured by his defender, Fujian’s Zhou Qixin, McGrady exposed the ball and got stripped before he could even get in range for a shot.

After a timeout to set up the last play, Fujian gave the ball to their American, Sundiata Gaines, whose first CBA debut finished in very simliar fashion to his first NBA game: A buzzer-beating three pointer to win the game. Video below.



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The definitive NiuBBall.com CBA preview

November 22, 2012


Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks won the title last year… But will they have enough to repeat in 2012-13? (Photo: Osports)

Moreso than ever, the Chinese Basketball Association has become quite difficult to predict pre-season.

It’s hard to predict first of all because we generally stink at predictions, but more importantly that the league is as deep as its ever been top-to-bottom. There’s a more than a few reasons for that — more off-season player movement, more players going abroad to train in the summer, better coaching in-country, a commitment to strength and conditioning programs and better foreign players all round out the top of our list. But the end result of all that should be a very watchable and exciting league this season. Which is a good thing for us fans, of course.

Bad thing for NiuBBall’s annual predictions, however.

By our count, there’s 11 and possibly 12 teams (depending on how well you think Tracy McGrady is going to do in Qingdao) who have a shot at the playoffs. That’s well over half the league. If you think DongGuan is ready to make a jump (we do), then there are now four teams who could sport legitimate Finals cases. Building on Beijing’s buck-the-trend run to a championship last year, there appears to be a level of parody in the league. Pencilling in the top two, top four and top eight is no longer easy.

So as always, take what is about to come with a grain of salt and know that most likely this will all be very wrong.



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Bonzi Wells returns to play in China again, gets ejected in first quarter

June 26, 2012


 There has been a Bonzi Wells sighting in China. (Photo: Osports)

Since he was signed, then waived from the Minnesotta Timberwolves in December, it’s been pretty slow on the Bonzi Wells front. Which has been too bad for all of the Muncie/Ball State/Jail Blazers fans, since the biggest Bonzi update previous to his eight day stint as a T-Wolf was an attempt to change himself from being a “butthole” who cursed out referees and got a ton of technical fouls.

Which makes this nugget out of China so very, very welcome.

Wells, like the many former NBA players over the years who have flown to the Middle Kingdom in the summer to get paid to play in exhibition games against different combinations of Chinese Basketball Association squads in random second and third-tier cities, is currently touring with some American All-Star team that among others also features Tracy Murray.

And although it’s cool that the 1993-94 NBA league leader in three point percentage is balling in the PRC, let’s be honest: This thing should be about Bonzi. Because as we all know, Wells played in the CBA in 2008-09 with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons. The most highly anticipated import in league history at the time, Bangqi Weiersi, as he was known in Chinese, failed to live up to the hype, lasting 50 days and 14 games before the club released him due to his refusal fly back from the United States to rejoin the team after the Chinese Spring Festival break.

Flash forward to 2012, and Wells is now back in China for the first time since his days with Shanxi, which is kind of a cool story. The American squad played their first game against the DongGuan New Century Leopards in Hebi, Henan province last Friday and judging by accounts of the game, Wells’ second go around in China didn’t go much better than his first one. As translated from the Heqi Morning Post:

“…with 54 seconds into the first quarter 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Wells got into an altercation with a DongGuan player, which resulted in him berating an official. Wells’ behavior caused a stoppage in the action and made a commotion on the court. After a few minutes, Wells was ejected by the referee and the game resumed. But Wells gave no mind towards his orders to leave the court. Instead of going to the locker room, he casually took a seat by the court and enjoyed the rest of the game with the crowd.”

Here’s the pictures. DongGuan, who finished fifth last season, ended up winning 96-69.

Bummed that nobody in attendance was able to be treated to the full Bonzi in China experience, we’re putting up a highlight clip from a game against Jiangsu from his famed season in the CBA which included personal outputs of 52 points, a flagrant foul, a missed shot at the buzzer that would have won the game for Shanxi and the punting of the basketball that shortly followed that missed shot. Enjoy.



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Yang Xuezeng hired in Zhejiang

May 23, 2012


Yang Xuezeng, who recently resigned from Shanxi Zhongyu, is now officially the head coach at Zhejiang Chouzhou. He had been linked to Zhejiang since earlier this month, when it was announced that he had walked away from Shanxi.

Yang is the second head coach to sign with a new team this off season. In April, Zhejiang Guangsha brought back Wang Fei after releasing Jim Cleamons.


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Yang Xuezeng resigns from Shanxi, possibly headed to Zhejiang

May 10, 2012


For Yang Xuezeng, one season in Shanxi was enough. (Photo: Osports)

After leading the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons to their most successful season ever, Yang Xuezeng is calling it quits.

Yang, who steered the Brave Dragons to a third-place regular season before getting the team through to the semi-finals, has officially resigned as head coach and will not be back with the team next season. Team president and owner, Wang Xingjiang, confirmed the news yesterday to the Shanxi Evening Post.

The subject of Yang’s future with the team was brought up by reporters last night during an exhibition game in Taiyuan between the Brave Dragons and the traveling NBA Legends Team, who have been touring the country since April 27. Yang was not on the bench and when a reporter asked Wang, he said Yang had decided to part ways with the team despite several attempts from Wang to convince him to stay.

Yang has not yet publicly commented as to the reasons behind his decision.

Although Yang is unemployed at present, it doesn’t look like he will remain so for long. An anonymous source speaking to Sina is saying that Yang will likely be heading to the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls, who is in the market for a new head coach after releasing Ding Wei in April. A Zhejiang spokesperson confirmed today that there is interest in bringing Yang to Yiwu, but stressed that there has been no official contact made between the two sides as of yet.

Zhejiang, who had J.R. Smith, went at 15-17 last season to finish in 11th place.

Before taking over at Shanxi last season, Yang had coached for six seasons with DongGuan New Century Leopards from 2004-10, the last four of which were spent as head coach. In those for years, DongGuan finished 14th, 12th, 4th and 5th.


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Shanxi re-ups Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines, Fujian to bring back Will McDonald

May 10, 2012


Back for more: Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines will be teammates again in Shanxi next season. (Photo: Osports)

Great news if you liked watching the Chinese Basketball Association this year: Three of the league’s best import players are coming back next year.

Fujian SBS center, Will McDonald and Shanxi Zhongyu’s Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines have all signed new deals with their respective teams. Williams and Gaines have each signed two-year contracts, while McDonald has signed a contract for one.

Fresh off of a the most successful season in franchise history, the decision to bring back Williams and Gaines was a relatively simple one: Relying on arguably the best import combo in the league, Shanxi finished with a third place 20-12 regular season record, the best in franchise history, and their first ever playoff appearance. Once in the playoffs, they eliminated sixth-seeded Shanghai in four games in the first round before losing in five games to eventual CBA champions, Beijing, in the semi-finals.

Both playing in their first year with Shanxi, Gaines and Williams had extremely impressive numbers. Williams averaged 32 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals, while Gaines averaged 29.1 points and 14.3 rebounds en route to selections on the 2011-12 NiuBBall.com All-CBA First Team. It’s Williams’ second time achieving the honor and Gaines’ first.

Williams confirmed the news on his Sina Weibo account: “ITS OFFICIAL!!!!!! Im coming back the CBA and playing for Shanxi for 2 more seasons. It’s a honor to play for Shanxi and the city of Taiyuan once again. Thank you to the ownership and sponsors and for giving me the opportunity to play for the Club. #He’sBack”

Last year was Williams and Gaines’ third year in China. In 2009-10, Gaines debuted with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers before switching over to the Qingdao Double Star Eagles to play another full season n 2010-11. Williams’ first stint also came in 2009-10 with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. He then came back to Zhejiang mid-season in 2010-11 after the team cut ties with Mike James.

Meanwhile, Fujian will bring back its own NiuBBall.com All-CBA First Team performer of its own.

McDonald, who made his China debut this past season, showed little trouble of adapting to his new surrounds, averaging 27.6 points and 9.9 rebounds. The 6-11 center teamed up with Anthony Roberson and Asia import, Zaid Abbas, to bring Fujian back into the playoffs after they finished towards the bottom of the league the year before.

Before coming to China, McDonald spent several years playing in Spain with Gran Canaria, Student Asefa, Tau Ceramica and DKV Joventut.


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Allen Iverson on playing in China next year: “Why not?”

April 27, 2012


Allen Iverson is in China right now, but the question is: Will he be back here next season? (Photo: Osports)

Allen Iverson captured headlines in China yesterday after arriving in Shanghai has part of an exhibition tour that will travel around China for the next two weeks, but he has captured the imagination of media and fans after indicating he’s open to the idea of playing in the Chinese Basketball Association next season.

Iverson is currently in China for the next two weeks as part of an NBA Legends Tour that will play seven exhibition games in six cities across central and southern China. Shorty after getting on the ground from the U.S. yesterday morning, he fielded questions from Chinese reporters and when when asked if he’d consider playing in the CBA next season, he replied: “Why not?”

Iverson has been out of professional basketball since January 2011, when he left Turkish outfit Besiktas after he injured his right calf muscle.

This is not the first time Iverson has been linked with a move to the CBA: He flirted with the idea of playing in China in the summer/fall of 2010 and had several serious offers, including a reported $4 million contract from Foshan. Iverson ended up declining Foshan and all other teams, and signed a two-year deal with Bestikas shortly after in October.

At this point, there is no indication as to which teams Iverson would be open towards joining.

Though the 11-time NBA All-Star rejected Chinese overtures in 2010, things could be different this time around if he is indeed serious about playing basketball. After an inconsistent stint in Turkey, big money European offers are likely off the table which means the best spot for a large contract would be China, where he is beloved by fans and widely recognized as one of the most popular NBA players of all-time.

But maybe more importantly, Iverson has a valuable ally in his Chinese corner this time, Stephon Marbury.

Fresh off of leading the Beijing Shougang Ducks to their first ever CBA championship, Marbury has grown into a bonefied superstar in China and has been called a hero of Beijing by the city’s millions of inhabitants. Due to a CBA rule that limits both the regular season and Finals MVP award to Chinese players, popular Chinese basketball website, hoopCHINA, has lead a campaign to build Marbury a bronze statue that will commemorate his season in Beijing, a project that has garnered the support of more than 1 million people in China.

How that relates to Iverson’s potential career in China isn’t hard to guess. Marbury continues to sell his Starbury line of apparel to the Chinese market. With Iverson likely keen on the idea branding himself to China’s estimated 300+ million basketball fans, Marbury would be the ideal example for the 36 year-old to follow if he indeed ended up playing here next season.

Marbury, who will play against Iverson for the Legends Tour’s first thee games, returned to Beijing yesterday after a short trip to the United States and was immediately supportive of Iverson joining up with a Chinese team next season.

“I think [Iverson] will be rejuvenated if he played in China,” Marbury said on his Sina Weibo account (Chinese Twitter). “He would love the fans here if he played basketball here. I hope he can feel the love when he plays here in the coming games.”

Besides Iverson and Marbury, the tour includes Dennis Rodman, who also landed with Iverson in Shanghai yesterday, as well as Clyde Drexler and Shawn Kemp. The Legends team will play the first three games against Marbury and the Beijing Ducks, the first of which is tomorrow night in Cixi, Zhejiang province. They’ll then play their next three against the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, who lost to Beijing in the semi-finals this season, before playing the Chinese U-23 Olympic National Team in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, for the finale.

The Ducks will be short of their other import player, Randolph Morris, who elected to remain in the U.S., Lee Hsueh-lin, who is back in his native Taiwan, as well as Zhai Xiaochuan and Zhu Yanxi, who are in Sanya training with the China Senior National Team.

In 14 seasons, Iverson averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals. His accolades include an NBA Rookie of the Year award, an NBA MVP, an NBA Finals appearance, four scoring titles and  seven All-NBA Team selections. He is currently the 17th all-time leading scorer in NBA history with 24,368 points.

The Legends Tour schedule is as follows:

April 28th: Cixi (vs. Beijing Shougang)

April 30th: Wuxi (vs. Beijing Shougang)

May 3rd: Shenhen (vs. Beijing Shougang)

May 5th: Linyi (vs. Shanxi Zhongyu)

May 7th: Dongying (vs. Shanxi Zhongyu)

May 9th: Taiyuan (vs. Shanxi Zhongyu)

May 11th: Taiyuan (vs. China Olympic National Team)


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NiuBBall Water Cooler/Heater: End Of Season Review

April 9, 2012

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The NiuBBall water cooler/heater: Where you can chat with friends about hoops while sipping either hot or cold water.

This chat originally appeared on Shark Fin Hoops.

The end of the 2011-12 CBA season is here, which means its time to switch our NiuBBall coverage to other things. But before we do, our guy Andrew Crawford over at Shark Fin Hoops has organized a final Pastuszek-Bothfeld-Crawford three-man gathering around the water cooler/heater to recap the year that was. As always, feel free to fill your cups with whatever temperature water your body desires.

Andrew Crawford: First things first, Beijing Ducks are the CBA champions. They led the league, then they had that slump, they needed five games to beat Shanxi- how surprised are you guys with the Ducks being the CBA champions?

Edward Bothfeld: After getting off to such a hot start, you had to expect there would be a mid-season letdown but with the way they started the season, it showed that they were going to be one of the best teams all year long. With Shanxi, I feel like they could have taken any team to the brink of defeat because Williams and Gaines can really score the ball. The first few games against Guangdong surprised me because I expected Guangdong to win but after their Game 2 victory, it seemed that Beijing might actually be better than Guangdong.

Jon Pastuszek: Regardless of how they started the season, I always thought it was going to be Guangdong again. Remember when Xinjiang went 31-1 last season in the regular season and people thought they were finally going to get a championship? Guangdong always plays below their level in the regular season because they know their final goal is a championship, so I never took much stock in Beijing’s hot start.

Plus, with Beijing only going seven deep, I also thought there’d be fatigue issues so to see Beijing lift the trophy was a huge surprise to me. That said, I wonder — and this to me is the big “what if” that doesn’t get raised enough — if a motivated Wilson Chandler had been playing in the playoffs, would Beijing have even made it past the first round?

EB: Jim Cleamons firmly believed, without a doubt, that if they had Wilson they would have won that series. A motivated Wilson that is. Cleamons also said that the Beijing team knew that too.

AC: That’s an interesting point which I was going to ask later but we might as well talk about now- Chandler, J. R. Smith and Kenyon Martin were the big names coming over this summer. Wilson walked out, Smith couldn’t get his team into the playoffs and K-Martin bought his contract out after half the season. When we look back at this season, did these three guys justify the hype?

EB: Wilson and J.R. were good when they wanted to be but once the lockout ended, all bets were off. Wilson really struggled once the lockout ended and he saw Kenyon board that plane back to the States so I think if the lockout had lasted a lot longer, the hype would have been justified, but the fact that Kenyon and Wilson didn’t even finish the season, I don’t think you can say they justified the hype. And J.R. Smith put up impressive numbers but when I saw him live it looked like he was goofing around the majority of the time – attempting impossible passes, etc.

JP: I think Ned is right about the impact of the NBA season resuming. All of those guys signed in China with the expectation that the NBA wouldn’t be playing, so for the lockout to end suddenly was huge. You can come out and say that it doesn’t bother you, but when you’re a free-agent who has the comforts of home and a big money contract waiting for you, of course it’s going to impact your performance. When K-Mart first got bought out, and then got his FIBA clearance, that just took things to a new level, but I think it also depends on how you interpret “hype”- even though none of those guys played in the playoffs, they helped to attract more attention to the league than ever before. Ratings and attendance were higher than ever before, so if you’re looking it at from that standpoint, I think they did live up to the hype. I’m sure their teams feel otherwise, however…

AC: Indeed. What have you guys made of less heralded names from this season? Before he got injured, I thought Ryan Forehan-Kelly was amongst the best imports in the CBA. Besides Marcus Williams (obviously), who stood out to you as an overseas guy really making a difference in the league?

JP: I’m with you on RFK; his numbers may not have jumped off the page, but he was a huge reason for Shanghai’s success before he got hurt. Having played under Panaggio and his triangle offense, in the D-League, he was a big part of their success in integrating that offense in Shanghai. Not only that, he was their best clutch performer and was their most versatile perimeter defender. Just from a fan standpoint, it was sad to see him get hurt. Other guys who stood out: I’ve always been a big James Singleton guy, I just like his unselfishness and how he’s commited to winning. Will McDonald in Fujian was also great to watch, he’s one of the most skilled bigs to come into this league in a while and I hope he’ll be back next year.

AC: I am a big Zaid Abbas fan. After watching him live, I really have an appreciation for all the little things he does; his hustle, his determination, his shit talking- I want him on my team, and as we’ve seen, every team he goes to starts doing really well. He’s a winner.

JP: Would either of you sign him as a regular, non-Asian import though?

AC: Personally speaking, I would- either him or Singleton would be perfect for Coach Panaggio’s setup. I know they are talking about scrapping the Asian import but regardless, he’s a proven player. I’d be delighted to see him pitch up Shanghai- the Yuanshen would go nuts for him.

EB: Another guy I liked besides Abbas was Lester Hudson. I realize he hoisted a ton of shots but he was all over the place, getting steals, rebounds, etc- and after talking with him after his game against Guangsha, it seemed like his head was really in the right place and that he was dedicated to winning as a team and becoming a better player personally.

AC: Okay then, lets move on- which Chinese player(s) really stood out for you? I know he flew under the radar because he plays for a terrible team in Tianjin but Zhang Nan looked like a tidy player in the forward posistion. Han Dejun looks like he could be a monster with the right coaching and conditioning and I’ve got to show some love for Zhang Zhaoxu who is getting better and better every game. The Sharks coaches really like him and he could well be an every night double-double guy next season.

JP: Beijing’s Zhu Yanxi was a guy who really caught my eye this season. A big part of the Ducks’ championship was their ability to spread the floor and let Marbury do his thing. Without Zhu drawing out opposing bigs, there’s no way they would have been as successful as they were. I’ve always thought China should look to produce more Euro-type big guys who can stretch the floor and shoot it from the perimeter; maybe Zhu will convince coaches of the same. I’m looking forward towards seeing him develop both on Beijing and the National Team in the years ahead. Other guys I liked this year- Han and Zhang both looked good and I also really liked Xinjiang’s Xirelijiang.

EB: For Guangsha, I felt like Wang Zirui made a lot of progress in terms of developing. At just 18 years old, he was the youngest player in the CBA. He started the season on Jim Cleamons’ bench but was the starting PG by the time the playoffs rolled around. If he continues to develop, he will be a starting caliber PG for years to come.

AC: What about coaches? I know I’m writing from a Shanghai perspective but I have to say that the turn-around sparked by Coach Panaggio here has been impressive. What are your thoughts on guys who’ve made a big impact from the touchline?

JP: I agree about Panaggio, and I think Brian Goorjian in Dongguan also has done really well. Both overcame slow starts to make the playoffs and both made it a priority to develop their Chinese players, which is ultimately what this league should be about. Yang Xuezeng was the first coach ever to lead Shanxi to a post-season berth, so I think that has to be commended as well.

EB: Yeah, I also thought Daniel Panaggio did an excellent job with Shanghai. He preached defense and it showed. He also managed to incorporate Marcus Landry into the team’s system after Ryan Forehan-Kelly went down with the Achilles injury. Shanghai finished the 2011 season 12-20 and was ranked all the way down at fifteen on NiuBBall’s season preview. Coaching had a lot to do with their turnaround.

AC: What teams did well this season? There have been a few surprises this season but which teams really caught your eye?

EB: Qingdao and Fujian were nice surprises. I can’t say it enough- Lester Hudson is a hell of a player, although he does shoot the air out of the ball. Qingdao were fun to watch and it was good to see them have some success. As we anticipated, Fujian would get a boost due to the addition of Abbas, who was their Asian import. But I don’t think anyone saw them making the playoffs. Besides Abbas, McDonald really came on strong and played well — and if Roberson was shooting well, they really had a three headed monster. I thought they could make some noise in the playoffs, but with Roberson and Abbas battling injuries, they had no chance.

JP: You have to start with Beijing. I think a lot of people expected them to be a playoff team, but hardly anybody thought they’d be serious championship contenders. For a team to go from a periphery playoff squad to CBA champion is unheard of in this league, even more so when you consider that Beijing was among the younger teams this season. Shanghai was another team that surprised me; a new coach, a new offense, lots of young players and relatively unknown imports- I thought it was going to be a long season in Yuanshen.

AC: You’ve mentioned the improbable success of Beijing but we should also talk about the poor seasons endured by Jiangsu and Bayi- what were the critical factors in their seasons being so bad? Do you think this will be a blip or could you see these teams starting to stagnate?

JP: We all know Bayi doesn’t have any imports. Back in the late 1990s and early and mid-2000s, when the league was attracting mid to lower-level imports, that wasn’t an issue because they could contend every year knowing they had the best Chinese players. Things are a lot different now, though: First, their star player, Wang Zhizhi, is old and not nearly the player he once was. Second, the CBA is attracting better imports with every passing year, with this season’s NBA-to-China exodus clearly standing out as the best crop of foreign players in league history. So with every team around them getting better while Bayi themselves decline, it wasn’t a huge shock to see them take a dive this year. For Jiangsu, I think they missed having Tang Zhengdong in the middle. They also did a terrible job selecting their imports. Mardy Collins and Dan Gadzuric were both gone shortly after the beginning of the season. Jackson Vroman was a good pick-up, but Marcus Williams (the UConn one) was without a doubt the worst foreigner in the league this season.

EB: With Jiangsu, I thought the problem was with Williams. He looked really out of shape and only averaged 11.34. That’s not going to cut it for an import. Vroman was a nice surprise, but they need an imported upgrade in their back court. As for Bayi, maybe it’s time for them to change the system. Their demise was seen eight months ago, when Jon predicted they would miss the playoffs. Wang Zhizhi is really old — they need a new face to the franchise. When I saw them live, they played without any hint of passion.

AC: Let’s return to the players for one last time. Who have been your favorite guys to watch? For me, Osama Daghlas was a masterful point guard- he crushed Shanghai when they went away to Jilin and he’ll be another ‘Asian’ player that teams should look to sign this time next year, regardless of what the status is with imports. Mike Harris could really put on a show and should expect several suitors if he comes back to China. J.R. was also unbelievable in person and was absolutely worth the price of admission.

EB: Marcus Williams was just so efficient. I loved his game. Whether his team needed him to slow the game down by getting to the line or hit a big three, he was there for them. At times, it seemed like he would never miss! Abbas is also a blast to watch. His hustle and passion were infectious and he’s so annoying. I would hate to play against him. I was sitting first row behind the Guangsha bench and he would not stop talking shit, “Alright guys- one on five, one on five!” (in the fourth quarter when Chandler was attempting to take over”. I really hope he’s back in the CBA next season.

JP: I’ll give you three: I enjoyed watching Marbury for obvious reasons. He was able to perfectly balance his point-guard duties with his import ones, running the offense and distributing effectively for the first three quarters before taking over himself in the fourth. Shanxi’s Marcus Williams was fun to watch, he’s pretty much able to get whatever he wants on offense and looks very smooth while getting it. And last, Liaoning’s Guo Ailun. I’ve always been a fan of Guo, he doesn’t play the point guard position like a typical Chinese, he’s very vocal, energetic and enthusiastic. Plus he can be a beast out of pick-and-roll. All of that is fun to watch, even if he’s bricking jumpers and turning the ball over.

AC: Final question then- what has been the highlight and lowlight to your CBA season? I’ll take any of the big results Shanghai got against Guangsha, Xinjiang, Beijing, or Zhejiang for the former and the latter will probably be losing both home games in that Shanxi playoff.

JP: The highlight of the season was being a part of the 18,000 fans who filled up Wukesong Arena to watch Games 1, 4 and 5 of Beijing – Guangdong. As for the low point of the year, I think it’s a tie between Shanxi fans’ behavior during and after Game 4 of the semi-finals and Li Chunjiang ordering his players to sweep the leg and injure someone.

EB: The highlight of the season was watching Jin Lipeng hit the buzzer beater against Shanxi. It was a game that the Lions should have won, but gave away their lead at the end of the game…. until Jin came up huge. The lowlight has to be watching Wilson Chandler and the rest of the Lions team mailing it in during some games. It was so frustrating to watch. Against Bayi, with the playoffs on the line, they showed no sense of urgency. Just thinking about what could have been if Chandler and the Lions had remained motivated. I think that once Chandler had checked out, so did his teammates.

AC: Lovely stuff. Well, we finally made it happen and the much-vaunted three-man weave was well worth the wait. Thanks for your various contributions over the season, gentlemen. Enjoy the offseason!


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