He made his name again in Rio and now Yi Jianlian looks like he’s heading to the California sun.
China may have struggled in these group stages of the 2016 Olympic Games, being knocked out before the quarters (we all remember their opening game blowout against Team USA by 57 points. The biggest margin the U.S have won by since it was all a Dream Team in 1992), but they still showed flashes of brilliance. Especially when it came to the Peoples Republic’s biggest star.
Retired legend Yao Ming may have carried the flag for his country, leading the nation into Brazil’s Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony, but it was Yi Jianlian who wore the jersey, carrying even the whole Asian continent into contest (aside from the Japanese woman’s team that also represented the Far East).
Yi who followed Yao Ming’s dynasty and legacy into the league averaged 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in Rio despite China going winless in its tournament time. His hustle for a bucket and improved athleticism were undeniable. As were his stats in the Chinese league last year. As the 28 year old still in his prime averaged 27.7 points and 10.9 rebounds for the Guangdong Southern Tigers on a 57.5 clip from the field.
The Power Forward was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and looks to be now showing that Top Ten worth. Despite impressing for the deers as well as the Mavericks, Wizards and Nets during his half decade tenure in the National Basketball Association that also saw some time with the Texas Legends of the NBA’s Development League.
But now Jianlian looks to be called up again from the same Tiger team he returned to after making his professional playing debut for when he was just 14 years of age. And it looks like the post Kobe young gun Lakers are the team to give him a shot to the tune of a nice $8 million contract. Making for quite the Olympic payday.
The 4 time CBA champion looks to make his NBA comeback permanent after an impressive display in the Rio Olympics. The 7 footer looks to bolster a bench of veterans for the Lakers who are banking their young future on the live or die in L.A. death line-up of former rookies and sophomores Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., D’Angelo Russell and this Summers new number two draft pick rookie Brandon Ingram. Forget a Golden State Fantastic Four of big free agent Kevin Durant, MVP Steph Curry and Olympians Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. These kids could be California Warriors too. And Yi isn’t the only purple player to have a gold Summer in Rio. And we aren’t talking about the aforementioned stars of the future who helped train and test the Olympic roster in what everyone thought would be just another tune-up.
Host nation Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas showed how just a great Point Guard he was and is (and this is the Lakers fourth string P.G.?! No wonder the Lakers re-signed him this Summer. They saw what was to come.), dishing off to the NBA likes of Nene and Leandro Barbosa. As Brazil may have not made it through to the second round, but they sure passed the bar that the Olympic competition set. Even upsetting Spain and new teammate Jose Calderon in a Lakers backups match-up. Put Yi with these two Points, new Cav champ signing Timofey Mozgov and British ambassador of the 2012 London Olympics Luol Deng and you have one deep bench that could star over the kids for those times when only vets can get it done.
Following in the sneaker steps of fellow Chinese countryman and former Laker draftee Sun Yue, the man once dubbed “the next Yao Ming” last played in the NBA in the year of the last Olympics.
Time to go forth.
Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.
No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.
Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.
The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.
The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.
China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.
The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.
Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.
One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.
Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.
Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.
Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China
Remade in China.
From playing with LeBron and the Lakers last season. To getting an early start in the Far East for this one. Getting in opponents faces like he used to do when he went up against the King. Blow in his face all you want…but its just hot air.
Lance Stephenson is back baby!
Like you’ve never seen him before. Running his town in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards.
To quote Charlie Murphy talking about Prince in an infamous Hollywood stories episode of Dave’s ‘Chappelle Show’, “this cat can (still) ball man”!
To those who think a couple of strings have popped off Stephenson’s guitar then just watch him play and strum along. Lance is still makin’ ’em dance with the NBA’s most famous celebration…except the league just lost it and one of their premier performers and fondly favourite, cult celebrities in the amazing association of epic entertainment.
Turns out the Lakers should have held on to their veteran big name meme team a little longer. Although they did re-up with pure point Rondo running the show and the centre who should start in JaVale McGee. But in not keeping one of their biggest bench presence spark plugs of camaraderie and chemistry since the days of Rony Turiaf or even Mad Dog, Mark Madsen, this is almost as heart-breaking as losing all the kids in the Hollywood divorce for Anthony Davis. But we love reunions almost as much as we love redemption in this league and with BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson inking a deal with Detroit that is going to see the Motor City Pistons assembly line cut former Laker Michael Beasley. We may just see this fellow wild card, big contributing star head back to the Chinese league he finished out the season with like he hasn’t just flown home already. We know one Leopard who would welcome him with back open paws and any other player with a name beyond a meme, not caring if he never changes his spots.
Just when you thought Ice Cube’s inspired BIG3 was the only prescribed route for former NBA players to EA get back in the game like museum exits via the gift shop then check out this exhibit. You only have to check a FIBA feed and see how France French kissed the United States out said tournament a year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan to see that this game is truly global. It’s far more than just the United States. It’s the whole wide, watching and welcoming world. And one of the biggest hubs like everything in this world from business, to commerce and innovation is in China. Now that’s some development even the G-League can’t give you old man.
Coney Island’s own legend Stephon Marbury became an icon here, remaining after he retired…and this guy was a superstar under the Times Square, World’s Most Famous Arena lights of being a New York Knick in the Madison Square Garden of hallowed hoops Eden.
Are you listening Carmelo?
You too Dwight…give it a couple of months.
With 35 and 10, double decadence in the playoffs, Lance just put an end to San Miguel like last orders at the bar and now next rounds on him as he mime guitars until the fat lady falsettos in her stilettos to everyone raising a glass in toast.
The all dunking and big shot scoring player looks like he’s stepped into a rejuvenation machine…until you see just how much he afforded with his spare chance minutes last year on the biggest stage in Hollywood. He looks like he’s having a Swayze. And Chinese Basketball in turn the time of its life.
All Stephenson needed was another chance. And boy is he taking it right now. At this point Lance will be back in the league before you can say “it’s opening night at the STAPLES Center.” But at this point would he even want back, causing big trouble in a not so little China?
(As a matter of fact after press Lance Stephenson lead his Leopards over Seoul to win both the Terrific 12 and the tournament MVP…like Jay what more can we say?)
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