|No. 14 - Bayi Rockets|
|Date of birth||July 8,1977 |
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in|
|Listed weight||290 lbs|
|NBA Draft||1999; Round: 2 / Pick: 36th|
|Selected by the Dallas Mavericks|
|2002-2003||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
|Wang Zhizhi at NBA.com|
Wang Zhizhi (Chinese: 王治郅; Pinyin: Wáng Zhìzhì), born July 8, 1977) is a Chinese professional basketball player in the Chinese Basketball Association at Center for the Bayi Rockets. Zhizhi played in the NBA for 6 years.
In China, Wang is sometimes affectionally called "Da Zhi" (大郅) or "Big Zhi". In the NBA, Wang's nickname "Dodger" is a transliteration of the word.
Wang joined Bayi, the Army club, in 1994, who conveniently changed his date of birth from 1977 to 1979, a common practice within China's sports system. When the Chinese Basketball Association started in 1995, Wang was one of the youngest players in the league. Nevertheless, he soon became a starter in the star-studded army team Bayi Rockets. From 1995 to his departure for the NBA after the 2001 Finals, the import-less Bayi Rockets won all CBA Finals and National Games of the PRC. The Bayi dynasty was upended by Yao Ming and the Shanghai Sharks as soon as Wang left for the NBA.
In the 1995 FIBA World Championship for Juniors (Under-19 players), Wang led China to a 9th place finish with a 4-4 record. He averaged 22.3 points, making 60% of his field goals and 86% of his free throws. He also averaged 11.1 rebounds per game and led the tournament in shots blocked. As a result, Wang was named to the All-Tournament team.
In 1996, Wang became the first Asian player invited to play for the international squad against the best USA high school players in the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit Game. He started and scored 6 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
Wang Zhizhi became an Olympian in the 1996 Olympics, where he started and averaged 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, helping China to finish at 8th place.
In 1998, China regained its supremacy in the Bangkok Asian Games.
After leading the Chinese national squad to the 1999 Asia Championship title, Wang again starred for China in the 2000 Olympics, averaging 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He also made 54% of his field goals and 90% of his free throws as China placed 10th.
First NBA Player from China
In the summer of 1999, to the surprise of almost all basketball officials and reporters in China, the Dallas Mavericks selected Wang, who was still listed as born in 1979 without declaring for the draft, with the 36th pick in the second round of the NBA draft. The Mavericks were the only NBA team getting hold of Wang's official documents with an authentic date of birth, thanks to his agent Xia Song who was in Dallas on draft night. Unprepared and confused, the army refused to allow their only center to leave for the United States, at least immediately.
After long periods of negotiations, Wang Zhizhi was finally let go by his Army club and the Chinese basketball officials to pursue his NBA dream, two years after he was drafted. Wang arrived in Dallas after winning his last CBA title, when there were less than 10 games left in the NBA regular season. Despite the many difficulties (including hostility towards Chinese citizens during the spy plane crash) Wang managed well, averaging 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game. He also made the playoff roster.
Two days after the Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs, Wang hurried back to China to play in the East Asian Games, according to an agreement formed between the Chinese authorities and the Dallas Mavericks. In the same summer, Wang was tremendous in two more tournaments in China: winning the Asia Championship, and placing a historically second in the Universiade.
However, Wang still had one obligation to fulfill before being allowed to retun to the United States. His army club requested that he stayed in China to play in the National Games in November. Wang arrived after barely defeating Yao Ming's Shanghai team by 1 point in the Final, but found that he had a lot of catch-ups to do as other players already had 2 months to familiarize with the NBA team's system. Wang again made the playoff roster in 2002.
Conflict with the Chinese Officials
Wang's contract expired after the 2001-2002 season. With his future up in the air, Wang decided he would spend the summer in the United States, rather than returning to China for the monotonous training, as the Dallas Mavericks had promised the Chinese basketball officials. Wang fired his agent Xia Song when the latter suggested otherwise, and following the advice of his American born Chinese friend Simon Chan, moved to the Los Angeles area without telling either the Mavericks, or the Chinese side his intentions.
During the stay, the Chinese basketball officials faxed two letters to him urging him to return to China as soon as possible to train with the National Team. Wang conveniently ignored them.
A major blow to all parties involved an article by Jodie Valade that appeared in the Dallas Morning News. In the article, Valade hinted that Wang, who had been quiet all this while, might "defect" to the United States. While Wang managed to state that the article was baseless and the report "irresponsible", the possibility had seriously alarmed the Chinese and trust that used to be held had been all but severed.
Still the Chinese side sent two military officials who had known Wang very well to go to the United States for a final plea. Wang had been playing for the Golden State Warriors in the Long Beach summer league, and averaged 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game.
During the press conference Wang stressed that the relationship between him and the Chinese are like one between "a son and a mother", and the conflict is all but misunderstanding.
Wang was dismissed from the national team for failing to return to China to practice in 2002. He was signed by the Dallas Mavericks in 2001, and later played for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat. An athletic and tall player at 7'1" (216 cm), Wang was primarily known in the NBA as a long-range shooter. However, he was previously crowned the slam dunk champion one year in China's CBA league. His minutes were very limited in the NBA, never averaging more than 10.9 per game in a season, and he became a free agent at the end of the 2005 season. In late 2005, Wang was not playing professional basketball in the NBA or China. He averaged 4.4 points and 9.9 minutes per game over 5 seasons in the NBA.
Return to China
On April 10, 2006, following weeks of rumors in Chinese media, Wang returned home from the United States after being expelled from the national team for four years. He publicly apologized for his past mistakes, and said he wanted to represent the country to play in the World Tournament later in 2006 as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
On April 30, 2006, Wang rejoined the national basketball team.
Over a period of four weeks in the leadup to the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan, Wang was a significant contributor to the Chinese national team in the absence of injured Houston Rockets NBA player Yao Ming, averaging 23 points in eight matches before suffering a torn ligament during a friendly game against France in late July. Wang recovered in time to play in the World Championships, and averaged 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds a game in 20.7 minutes a game.
Wang is currently playing for the Bayi Rockets in the CBA. In March 2007, he helped Bayi win the CBA championship for the seventh time, this time over the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and was named the MVP of the series.