Wednesday , Jul , 18 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Yi Jianlian: The Follow Up

A lot of the comments made on my article “Yi Jianlian and the Great Wall of Stupid” have been really great, and raised some good points, so I thought I should address a few of them.

Yi Jianlian: The Follow Up

A lot of the comments made on my article "Yi Jianlian and the Great Wall of Stupid" have been really great, and raised some good points, so I thought I should address a few of them.

First of all, let me explain the headline. I debated heavily whether or not to use the ‘Great Wall’ line and did indeed consider the implications. The tactics being used by Yi’s camp have been used by players and pro clubs from countries all around the world, not just China. I have beef with this kind of thing all the time, no matter where it’s coming from. That being said, as some folks have been well reasoned enough to point out in the comments already, the Chinese government has a track record of exercising an usual amount of controller over their athletes. The ‘Great Wall’ reference, is not just some cheap Chinese tie in, but an allusion to the type of restriction and limitation that the government there places on athletes. I meant no offense to anyone, but it’s only fair to mention the Chinese government and pro clubs have a reputation for this.

Secondly, many people have made mention of Yi’s right to choose what’s best for him, and made reference to this being a "free country". I fully acknowledge Yi’s right to make a choice in regards to his NBA career – he has the right to choose. My only beef with that argument is this: he already made his choice. He chose to enter the draft, no one forced him to do that. If he didn’t like the prospect or notion of being selected by a team with a less than ideal situation for him (be it due to the city or the roster), than he shouldn’t have entered the draft. If he wants to pick and choose the team he goes to, more power to him, he absolutely has that right, but he knowingly pursued that desire through the wrong avenue. If he wanted to have that kind of selection power, he should have opted for free agency. By entering the draft, he made his choice and agreed to follow the rules, he can’t then threaten not to play for a team before or after the draft – that undermines the entire process. And so yes, Yi has a right to choose, but he made his choice to enter the draft, full well knowing part of that process is out of his hands and the end result may not be ideal. Part of making decisions, and making your choices – the most important part, in fact – is making sure they’re well informed and being mature enough to deal with the outcome, no matter what it is.

Third, I fully acknowledge that the Milwaukee Bucks made a risky move when selecting Yi. They knew the situation, however unfair it was, and leapt into it anyway. I don’t like the ‘I’m doing what I want because I can’ approach that Yi is taking, but Milwaukee took much the same approach by drafting Yi even knowing he didn’t want to play there. I’m not saying the Bucks are some higher moral ground, because they’re not, but they do have the rules on their side and are technically correct in expecting the player they drafted to play for them, even if they aren’t exactly playing nice either.

Fourth, I commend the commenter who pointed out Dan Fegan’s role in all this. I did make numerous mentions of the people surrounding and influencing Yi, but without clarification that made it sound as if I was purely addressing the Chinese constituency of Yi’s camp, which was not my intention. It deserves mention that Yi does have an American NBA agent, Dan Fegan, who represents players such as Shawn Marion, Jason Richardson, Jason Terry, and Stephen Jackson. And Fegan has been known to cause some controversy, and is a large part of why relations with the Bucks have been going so poorly. I’d like to thank the initial commenter and everyone else who brought him up for pointing out Fegan’s role in all this.

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments, in particular those members of the Chinese community who took the time to give us their insights. I just write the articles, you guys make it a discussion.

And lastly, no, I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks. I almost laughed at that one. Michael Redd is light out though, I’ll give you that much.

I’m out.