||Yi Jianlian, a 6-11 forward that has dominated the basketball scene in China, now has his sights set on the NBA. Yi, who is expected to be drafted in the early stages of the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 28th, will be blogging for NBA.com for the two weeks leading up to the draft.|
Yi, born on October 27, 1987, has competed in the last five Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Finals. He has come away with titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and earned Finals MVP in 2006. He was also a member of the Chinese National Team at the 2004 Olympics and 2006 FIBA World Championship.
The Draft, Dreams and Heroes
The NBA dream and unremitting diligence
I remember the first time I dreamt of playing in the NBA. It was in 2001, when I came to the U.S for the first time and watched my first NBA game ever. Now, after several years of preparing for it in the CBA as well as the tough loss in the CBA Finals, I think I am ready for the next levelÖthe NBA. Since the NBA represents the highest level of basketball in the world and only about five hundred players have the chance to play in it, itís very difficult to make it happen. That means that you have to work very, very hard and strive for it; hard work and perseverance is essential.
The Great Pete Newell
Pete Newell is a legend in American basketball history. Itís really great to see someone at his age (91 years old), who still has so much passion for basketball! About four years ago, I attended his Big Man Camp and I think I did a descent job. So ever since then, Pete has endorsed me a lot. Being highly regarded by a Hall of Fame coach, who has been running the Big Man Camp for years, is really something. Itís a great honor for me. Recently, Pete came to see me practice and he was surprised by my footwork. He asked who taught me that move and I told him that he was the one who taught it to me. Pete started laughing when I told him that. I also benefited a lot from his detailed explanation on footwork skills once the training was over.
New York, I am coming
Although itís not my first trip to New York, there are many places that Iíd like to visit. Unfortunately, my schedule is very tight. Iíll be in the city tonight and tomorrow I have to follow the prearranged schedule for interviews and other media related events. Then Thursday is the draft. Right after the Draft, I have to meet with the Chinese National Team and start preparing for the Summer League. So, I donít really have much time to see the city.
My attire on the Draft night
Itís not as flashy as people think. The NBA Draft is a very serious event, so itís better to wear an outfit that is appropriate. I think the outfit they made for me is almost finished. But I canít tell you the color and the pattern right now. Youíll see it on the Draft night.
Representing the Chinese National Team, winning 3 CBA title in a row with my Guang Dong team, and the NBA DraftÖThose are some unforgettable moments of my life. To be the first ever Chinese (Asian) player to attend the NBA Draft and being invited to the Green Room, is very exciting. I think this is going to be very memorable.
My ways of pressure adjustment
To tell you the truth, just one week ago, I wasnít nervous at all. But now that the draft is only three days away, I am getting nervous. But I think I am more excited than nervous. And I donít think I am having a difficult time adjusting to these pressures. No matter what kind of pressure Iíve had to face, like during a tough game, Iíve always adjusted very well.
A necessary experience for NBA rookies
I was told recently that all the rookies will be carrying the bags or the sneakers for the team and the veteran players. Since this is like a tradition, I donít mind to doing it at all. Of course I wonít say ĎNoí.
Scoring lots of points or grabbing lots of rebounds every game, arenít my main goals for my rookie season. The only thing that Iím concerned with is playing my best and being prepared for everything. I hope that, sometime soon, Iíll have fans from all over the world. I will do my best during practices and games to achieve this goal.
Q&A with fans
Again, like last week, Iím going to answer some interesting questions that were asked by the fans:
Fans: Since youíll be representing the Chinese National Team in the Summer League, how do you feeling about playing against your possible future NBA team?
Yi Jianlian: Well, itís just a game. Iíll do my best. I hope we play well.
Fans: What do you want your teammates to call you?
Yi Jianlian: It doesnít matter to me. Whatever they think is good, Iím cool with it.
Fans: Who is on your ALL-NBA First Team?
Yi Jianlian: Active Players: Steve Nash + Kobe Bryant + LeBron James + Tim Duncan + Yao Ming
Magic Johnson + Michael Jordan + Scottie Pippen + Karl Malone + Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The Finals, an SUV and More...
About the Spurs sweeping the Cavaliers
After game 2, I thought the Cavaliers would win at least 1-2 games, but the Spurs proved me wrong. They won the championship without any difficulty and that really amazed me. I heard someone say before the Finals that they thought watching the Spursí play is kind of boring, but I wasnít bored at all. I donít think they threw themselves into the game as much as I do and maybe thatís why some people think the Spursí game was boring.
Fantastic performance by European players
Dirk Nowitzki won the regular season MVP, Tony Parker won the Finals MVP, and Andrea Bargnani from Italy was the runner up for the Rookie of the Year award. You can say European players had fantastic performances this year and brought honor to Europe. European players got both the regular season and Finals MVP, which is probably a first in the NBA history.
How many more titles can this Spurs team win?
Hmm, the truth is that this Spurs team is really strong and if the roster doesnít change much, I think winning another 2-3 titles is very possible.
My Idol--- Michael Jordan
Last week I told you guys that Duncan and Garnett are the two active players in the NBA that I like the most. But if weíre talking about NBA legends, then my favorite has to be Michael Jordan. I remember the first live NBA game that I watched on TV back in 1997, when Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to win over the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.
I was on the cover of the Chinese edition of ďSLAMĒ Magazine
I was on the cover of the latest Chinese edition of ďSLAMĒ magazine. In this issue youíll find some really good pictures that they took for me and some good stories about me as well. For people who like Yi Jianlian, go check it out!
English time - Part 2
To my surprise, after I posted my first blog on NBA.com & NBA.com/China, a lot of people expressed interest in how my study of English is going. I must say that I still have a lot to learn like grammar, vocabulary, etc...and between those, grammar is my focus right now.
About my jersey number
I wore numbers 9, 11 and 20 for the Guangdong Tigers and the Chinese National Team. Those numbers are assigned by the team so there was no special meaning. For the number that Iíll wear in the NBA, IĎm keeping it a secret for right nowÖwhat I can tell you is Iím already planning it.
My first car in the US will beÖÖ
An SUV. Recently, Iíve been spending almost all of my time in the training, so I donít have time to get a driver license though. But I am planning to get a license, probably after Iíve settled down a bit, and buy myself an SUV.
Eating in the U.S.
A lot of fans worried about my diet once in the US. I can tell you that I like all the American food and Iíve adapted well, so itís been no problem at all.
The Fatherís Day
June 17th was Fatherís Day. I havenít been able to spend Fatherís Day with my dad for a long time because of trainings and matches. Finally last Sunday, I had a chance to hang out with him. We had a nice meal together which made it feel like a ďrealĒ Fatherís Day.
About the Summer League - Part 2
Itís less than 10 days before the draft day. I will meet with the Chinese National Team right after that. Right now, Iím just concentrating on aggressively training and hope that when I meet with the National Team that Iíll be in my best shape yet. The summer league is a very good opportunity for us to play against all these NBA teams and it will be excellent preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Q&A with fans
Again, thank you all for giving your love to my blog, now I am going to answer some interesting questions that asked by the fans:
Fans: When Yi Jianlian do his first dunk?
Yi Jianlian: HmmÖÖI remember it was when I was 13-14 years old, and I was like 6í5Ē tall.
Fans: Whatís your most impressive dunk?
Yi Jianlian: I should say all my impressive dunks are during the games. The one that I did when we play against Spain, where I dribbled off Pau Gasol and slammedÖthat one wasnít bad at all.
Fans: Where did you get your good jumping ability? Naturally or through training?
Yi Jianlian: Well, I donít think my jumping ability is really good, since there are a lot of players in the US who can jump way higher than me. Besides, I donít think above average jumping ability is enough for me. I still need to work on other my basketball skills and physical strength.
Fans: Name three NBA players that you want to compete with the most.
Yi Jianlian: To tell you the truth, right now, I want to compete with all the players.
The Finals, Draft Day, and More...
Why the Spurs lead by three
First of all, the way they play doesnít change. Secondly, this is already the Spursí fourth NBA Finals in nine years, so their players have a lot of experience. For example, the "Big Three": Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili know each other very very well. Last but not least, the Spursí solid defense made them unbeatable.
If I were the coach of the Cavaliers
Well, Iíve never been a coach so Iím not an expert on this. But LeBron took his team to the NBA Finals for the first time, meaning they already play very well. And I think that although the Cavaliers really want to win this series, the Spurs are just too good for them to defeat.
NBA going international
The NBA is going international, as you can see with more players coming into the league who were born outside of the United StatesÖand their roles are getting bigger. Just look at the Spursí Ďbig threeí: Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, theyíre all international players and they each have a huge role to play for the Spurs. The "Big Three" led the team to three NBA championships and now they have a chance to win their fourth, so you can say that all these international players are making the NBA even better.
Parker, Finals MVP?
I think Parker did a tremendous job for the first two games. If Spurs win the title, Parker has a very good chance at getting MVP.
My Finals prediction
Spurs in six.
After posting this blog, I have to go to my English lessons. I think my English is getting better, but there is still a long way to go.
About my training
Right now, my daily training is about two hours long. Iím concentrating on special teams and strength training. I weighed myself recently and Iíve put on 10 more pounds, which Iím happy about.
June 28th---Draft Day
The June 28th Draft day is about two weeks away and to be honest Iím not nervous, itís all very exciting. If Iím concerned about anything, it would be which team will pick me.
My Favorite Player
I pay more attention to the players who play the same position as I do, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are my favorite players. Recently, I heard a lot of people debating on who the best No.4 in NBA history is: Karl Malone or Tim Duncan. In my opinion, they are both great players but theyíre from a different era. Karl Malone retired couple years ago, and they didnít play against each other for very long. Also, their styles are different, so I really donít think they are comparable.
About the Summer League
Fans are curious about which team (Chinese National Team or NBA team) Iíll play for during the Summer League. I can tell you now, that Iíll play for the Chinese National Team.
Thank you for all my fans
Thank you everyone for all your support. I hope you can keep supporting me in the upcoming Draft, where Iíll hopefully join a team that I fit in well with.