Yi Jianlian is a 7-foot power forward from China. Yi was drafted 6th overall on the 2007 NBA entry draft by the Milwaukee Bucks
As a Chinese Canadian I have to like him. But as a basketball fan, particularly, still a Vancouver Grizzlies fan and a Memphis Grizzlies hater, I very much dislike Yi's and his agent's comments and action of demanding a trade. The reason given was that Milwaukee do not have a large enough Chinese community and they felt that this maybe more difficult for Yi to get use to the American culture.
I dislike this action as a basketball fan, because this brings back so much bad memories of the Steve Francis fiasco, when Francis was drafted 2nd overall by the then Vancouver Grizzlies and refuse to sign with the Grizzlies and force a trade that see Francis sent to the Houston Rockets. Two years later the Grizzlies was relocated to Memphis.
My advice to Yi is, at least give the Bucks a chance for a year. Doesn't matter where he plays in the NBA, if he plays well, he will get use to the American culture in a hurry, because everyone in Milwaukee will love him. On the other hand, if he doesn't play well, it doesn't matter where he plays the home crowd will get on his back and criticize him, and having a bias Chinese fan base wouldn't do him any good. So just sign the contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and get on with it. I really hope he could have a nice career in the NBA.
Yi Signed with the Bucks on Aug. 29
After reading more about the situation in the past month and a half, apparently the only person that cause this mess was Yi's agent Dan Fegan. Because of the low Chinese population in Milwaukee or the state of Wisconsin in general, Fegan wanted to force a trade with a larger Chinese market, in hopes for more and fatter endorsement deals. But this backfires a bit as this situation upsets the largest Chinese population of all, the people in China. This is a fight that Fegan will never win, as long as the Bucks don't panic and stay tough, because Yi wants to play in the NBA, and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) wants Yi to play in the NBA, so as long as the Bucks say they won't trade Yi, Yi would sign with the Bucks.
Facts to consider in this situation are
1) Beijing Olympics next year, the CBA wants Yi to play in the NBA in the 07/08 season and further develop his skills for the Olympics
2) As long as Yi has a contract outside of North America, the Bucks retain Yi's rights, so unless Yi sits out for a full year, the Bucks could still sign him later, with the Olympics coming up, Yi can't sits out for a year
3) Sitting out for a year, means lost a year worth of commission for Fegan and give Yi a bad name, which will limit his endorsement deals as well
4) Money for Yi, doesn't matter how much endorsement deals he sign, just playing in the NBA, Yi would make more money than playing for the Gongdong Tigers just by signing with the Bucks
With these important factors, Fegan was in a fight that he never had a chance.