I’ve been waiting to comment on the Yi Jianlian situation for a while because it’s so unclear what’s going on and it doesn’t surprise me at all when confusing and conflicting media reports come out of China. First, Yi was said not to be joining the Milwaukee Bucks at all; then his club director said no, he had been misquoted; then Yi himself said that he was directing everything behind the scenes and it was his decision alone not to want to go to Milwaukee…and on and on. Yikes. This is what makes me realize just how astonishing a diplomat Yao Ming is, and how skillfully he has navigated the choppy waters that separate China’s basketball culture from the NBA – he would never have been caught up in such a public relations disaster. I found it laughable this week that Yao was criticized by the national team in the press for reportedly coming to the national training camp late – Yao is the best thing that has ever happened to Chinese basketball. Yi and Yao need to sit down and talk, because Yi and his people have some things to learn from Yao and his people.
NBA: Bucks GM upbeat about prospects of signing Yi (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, via the Honolulu Advertiser – July 24, 2007)
07/23/2007: Desmond Mason to Yi: Give Milwaukee a chance (Journal Times)
More news clips to come.