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August 11, 2008

Yi struggles against Team USA defense

by Chris Sheridan


Several weeks ago, the New Jersey Nets sent their best all-around player, forward Richard Jefferson, to the Milwaukee Bucks, in a trade that brought them the 20-year-old Chinese seven-footer Yi Jianlian and forward Bobby Simmons. Though some speculated the deal was as much about selling tickets to New York's large Asian population as it was about putting a winning team on the court, Nets' owner Bruce Ratner swore it was "100 percent about basketball." ESPN reports on how the basketball was looking in Beijing.

But what had to make Thorn choke on his Cheerios even more Sunday morning back in the States was the sight of his newest prize acquisition, Yi Jianlian, looking even worse than those smog-filled panoramas you keep seeing on the broadcasts out of Beijing.

Six times Yi put the ball in the air, and six times he missed. Take away that 0-for-6 first half, and the Chinese were just one made bucket away from shooting 50 percent from the field.

And somewhere, former U.S. Olympian Richard Jefferson had to shake his head wondering how in the wide, weird world he was traded for someone who looked so lost on such a massive stage.

Yi exited with China down 53-39, replacing Yao later in the third quarter with the deficit at 19 after Yao appeared to aggravate his foot injury and was slumped over cringing in pain. My notebook for the rest of the quarter reads like this:

Yi misses 3. Yi misses 2-on-2 fast break, Yi fouls Chris Bosh with a hard slap that could be heard in the upper deck, Yi stands stationary as sloppy pass leads to Kobe fast-break dunk. 71-48.

And somewhere back in the States, we're guessing a certain president of a certain team whose relocation date to Brooklyn grows ever more uncertain … well, we're fairly certain he turned off his TV Sunday morning having a hard time feeling good about what he watched from Beijing -- no matter how happy he was for his old friends on the staff of USA Basketball.


Posted by eric at August 11, 2008 4:56 PM