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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

COVER STORY BASKETBALL
DREAMING OF CHICAGO

The first Asian star in the NBA?


SINCE HIS FATHER (WANG Weijun, 1.96 m tall [6 ft 5 in]) and mother (Ren Huanzhen, 1.86 m [6 ft 1 in]) were both basketball players, it was perhaps only natural for Chinese star Wang Zhizhi to forge a career in lay-ups and slam-dunks. At 2.16 m (7 ft 1 in), Wang plays for the Bayi Rockets in China's Hilton League and is widely regarded as Asia's best shot at the NBA. He spoke to Asiaweek Contributor Anne Naham about his chances, the Chinese national team and his favorite player (it isn't Michael Jordan).

How do you feel about this NBA attention?

Nervous, yet not nervous. I am confident about my basketball abilities. I know I can be a good player, but I am still a bit uncertain about it all, of course.

What do you think are your chances of going to the U.S.?

It's not only up to me and the NBA. There is no guarantee that China will let me go.

But it would certainly be a boost for Chinese basketball to have a player in the NBA.

Yes, but the transfer systems in China and the U.S. are not the same, and besides, my country may need me. But if China lets me go, I would be very happy to play in the NBA.

Are you studying English in preparation for the U.S.?

Yes, a bit. I now speak enough English to get around, order dinner in a restaurant, change money and get on a plane.

Who is the greatest player on earth?

Hakeem Olajuwon [of the Houston Rockets]. He is a very intelligent player. Even if [Los Angeles Lakers center] Shaquille O'Neal had the same skill and physical condition, he still would not be as good.

What do you think of the Chinese national team?

The national team is the best that China has to offer right now. We represent the ambition of the Chinese fans. We'll try to live up to that.

China is now eighth in the world. Will it be possible to reach a higher place?

If we work hard, we will not do too badly. It will be very difficult, though, to become seventh or sixth.

For which NBA team would you like to play?

The Chicago Bulls.

I'll quote you on that.

Please do.


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