Chinese rookie NBA phenom Yi Jianlian has pleasantly surprised a lot of observers over his first couple weeks in the league.
ESPN writer David Thorpe makes the case that Yi is in fact the NBA's rookie of the year up to this point. Thorpe really pours it on in his praise:
"Yi's play has been both surprising and inspiring. Surprising in that no one has a bigger cultural change to adjust to, yet Yi looks like he's been an NBA pro for years. He has a clear plan for success and has executed that plan with discipline and talent."
Elsewhere on the ESPN website, Bill Simmons, in his popular "Sports Guy" column, admits that he was wrong about Yi, who he had earlier skewered as a likely bust in the league:
"As it turned out, Chairman Yi can look good even when he's posting up a human being instead of a chair. He's athletic and polished and does a surprisingly good job of protecting the rim; when you throw in the financial upside from the Far East connection, that turned out to be a savvy gamble by the Bucks."
Jordan Rivas on the Hoopsvibe.com, also admits he was wrong about Yi, and pinpoints the source of his initial skepticism:
"Unintentionally, unknowingly, subconsciously or otherwise, I allowed my opinions of off court issues to cloud the sight of the on-court talent that exists."
Yi's coming out party was when his Milwaukee Bucks faced off with compatriot Yao Ming's Houston Rockets. Yi racked up 19 points and 9 rebounds in the game, which was widely hyped as one of the most viewed NBA games ever (though I doubt China has any reliable TV ratings system). Although the Bucks lost the game Yi hit three pointers, rebounded and changed minds in his first game on a major stage.
As a bonus, it is great comedy for someone living in China to hear red-blooded American jock sportscasters butcher Yi's name, which usually comes out something like Ee zheeyon leeyon.
It's a long season, and Yi is definitely going to hit some bad patches. So big Yi, enjoy the feel good stories while they last and when negativity does hit, be grateful you're in little ol' Milwaukee and not on the back page of the New York Post.
Luke @ 19:20 | .(2301) |
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