Know-A-Net: Yi Jianlian
September 16, 2008
by Ben Couch -- NJNETS.COM
East Rutherford, NJ — Yi Jianlian is thoughtful. Ask him a question, and he’ll muse for a few moments, not only capably filtering your English, but also searching for the best answer to your question. Often, he jumps in with English responses even as his interpreters are still relaying the questions.
The 20-year-old forward, whose birthday is Oct. 27, joined the New Jersey Nets along with Bobby Simmons on June 26, when the team traded Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks shortly before the 2008 NBA Draft. Yi averaged 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 25 minutes per game as a rookie, numbers he’s looking to improve once his sophomore season tips off.
We had the chance to speak to Yi when he returned from the Olympics. It’s time to Know a Net!
NJNets.com: What’s your first basketball memory?
Yi Jianlian: I can’t really remember, but one time I was at home and saw an old picture. I was around two years old, three years old and I had a ball in this picture with my family.
NJN: When did you start playing organized ball?
Yi: The first time I played ball I was nine or 10 years old. I just played in school, with my schoolmates. I started practicing when I was 11 years old.
NJN: Who most encouraged you as a basketball player?
Yi: My first coach, Dai Yi Xin, who met me in a street basketball game. I was playing there and he came and talked to me.
NJN: What was your most embarrassing moment?
Yi: Playing in a streetball tournament, my schoolmates and I were very excited to play, and the first game we lost and were finished.
NJN: Which team were you most excited to play against in the NBA?
Yi: I try to play every team, every game the same (way). But the team would probably be the Rockets, because so many Chinese people focus on those games.
NJN: Who’s been your toughest matchup?
Yi: Trans: There are a lot of them. Man, a lot of them out there.
NJN: What’s your gameday routine?
Yi: Just listen to some music, try to relax a little bit. That’s it.
NJN: What do you listen to?
Yi: A lot of music: Chinese, American, hip hop, R&B. Never the same song.
NJN: What’s the best way to relax after a game?
Yi: Nothing special, just go home and relax. Sleep!
NJN: What’s your favorite food? Restaurant?
Yi: I love Chinese food, but I like American food, too. If you asked me most, I’d say Chinese. I know there’s a lot of good Chinese here because there are a lot of Chinese people here. I just got here, so I don’t know any restaurants. I’ll find out later.
NJN: What movies have you watched most often?
Yi: I don’t know. I like comedy movies and science fiction movies. Those are my favorites.
NJN: Do you play any fantasy sports?
[Here the translators spend several moments attempting to convey the concept. There is much discussion.]
Yi: I’ve never even heard of this.