Yi during his time with the Wizards.
|No. 9 – Guangdong Southern Tigers|
|Position||Forward / Center|
|League||Chinese Basketball Association|
|Born||Heshan, Guangdong, China|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||250 lb (113 kg)|
|College||Guangdong University of Technology|
|NBA Draft||2007 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6th overall|
|Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks|
|Pro playing career||2002–present|
|2002–2007||Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)|
|2008–2010||New Jersey Nets|
|2011||Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)|
|2012||→Texas Legends (D-League)|
|2012–present||Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)|
|Career highlights and awards|
Yi Jianlian (Chinese: 易建联) is a Chinese professional basketball player who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). He has also played in the American National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, and Dallas Mavericks.
Yi joined the Guangdong Southern Tigers in 2002 and subsequently won the Rookie of the Year Award. In five years with the Tigers, he won three CBA titles, and also played with the Chinese national basketball team in the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2006 FIBA World Championships. In the 2007 NBA Draft, he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks as the sixth overall pick. Initially, Yi declined to sign with the Bucks for several months before agreeing to a contract with them on August 29, 2007. He played in the NBA until 2012, when he returned to the Guangdong Southern Tigers. He won another CBA championship in 2013.
There has been controversy over Yi's age, as several reports have testified that his officially listed birth date of October 27, 1987, was intentionally falsified by three years so he would be able to play longer in junior competitions. Yi has refused to comment on his age.
Career in China
Yi was born to father Yi Jingliu and mother Mai Meiling, who were both professional handball players. As a child, his parents initially did not want him to join a sports school, which is designed for children who are predicted to be future stars. However, after a sports school basketball coach noticed Yi playing streetball, he persuaded Yi's family to allow Yi to train professionally.
Hoping to sign Yi to an endorsement deal, Adidas invited him to attend the company's ABCD camp in Teaneck, New Jersey in 2002, where he competed against All-American high school players. After returning to China later that year, he joined the senior team of the Guangdong Southern Tigers and averaged 3.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in his rookie season. He also averaged 7.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in four games in the CBA Finals and won the Rookie of the Year award. In 2003, Yi was featured in TIME magazine's August 24, 2003 article titled "The Next Yao Ming". In each of his next three seasons, Yi led Guangdong to the CBA championship, and he was awarded the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) honor in 2006. In Yi's last season in the CBA before he entered the 2007 NBA Draft, he averaged a career best 24.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, but the Tigers lost to the Bayi Rockets in the 2007 CBA finals. He also studied at the School of Economics and Management at Guangdong University of Technology.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Yi Jianlian signed a one-year contract to return to the Guangdong Southern Tigers. Unlike most NBA players who went to the CBA during that time, he received an option to return to the NBA once the lockout had been resolved. After that happened, he signed with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks for the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
Yi rejoined the Guangdong Southern Tigers for the 2012-13 season.
Entering the NBA
Yi was not expected to enter the NBA Draft until 2009 because the Chinese Basketball Association ruled that players would not be allowed to leave until they turned 22. In early 2006, however, Yi announced that he would enter the 2006 NBA Draft, although he eventually decided to withdraw, saying he was "not good enough to compete in the NBA and needed more experience". A year later, on November 1, 2006, the Tigers announced that Yi would enter the 2007 NBA Draft.
Yi chose NBA agent Dan Fegan to represent him in the NBA Draft and flew to Los Angeles to participate in pre-NBA Draft camps. Before the draft, Yi was predicted to be picked anywhere from third to twelfth. On June 28, 2007, Yi was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, despite Fegan warning the Bucks not to pick Yi and not allowing Milwaukee to be one of the teams invited to Yi's pre-draft private workouts in Los Angeles. He did not want Milwaukee to select Yi because they did not have a large Asian-American community. However, general manager Larry Harris said they had only drafted the best player available to them.
Footage of Yi posting up against a chair instead of another basketball player was shown during the Draft telecast, which earned him the nickname "The Chairman", popularized by ESPN writer Bill Simmons.
After the draft, the Bucks attempted to convince Yi to sign with the team. On July 2, the owner of the Bucks franchise, Senator Herb Kohl, wrote a letter to Yi and his representatives, hoping to persuade Yi to sign with the Bucks. Three days later, Harris and head coach Larry Krystkowiak met Yi in Las Vegas, desiring to influence Yi to play for Milwaukee; however, Yi's representatives requested that the team trade Yi to another city with a large Chinese presence. Chinese officials also required that any team Yi played with would have to give him sufficient playing time for him to improve before the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Kohl made a special trip to Hong Kong to appeal to Yi personally. He also assured Chinese officials that Yi would have sufficient playing time, and on August 29, 2007, the Milwaukee Bucks and Yi agreed to a standard, multi-year rookie contract.
After being named to the Bucks' starting lineup by Krystkowiak in place of Charlie Villanueva to begin the 2007–08 NBA season, Yi had nine points and three rebounds in a loss to Orlando in his NBA debut. He played his first home game in Milwaukee three days later and scored 16 points while grabbing eight boards in a 78–72 win against the Chicago Bulls. The game was also Yi's first game to be televised nationally in China, where it was watched by 100 million viewers. Yao Ming praised Yi's play in his first games, saying, "If you compare us in our third NBA games, you will see that Yi's statistics are far better than mine".
On November 9, Yi played against Yao for the first time when the Houston Rockets hosted Milwaukee in the Toyota Center. Yi had 19 points and nine rebounds, including two three-pointers, but the Rockets topped the Bucks 104–88, with Yao scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The game was also watched by over 200 million people in China, making it one of the most-watched games in NBA history. After the game, Yao called Yi's talent "unbelievable", and Tracy McGrady said that Yi had "A tremendous upside in this league". Del Harris, the coach of the China's 2004 Olympics basketball team, also described Yi as "the most athletic 7-footer in the NBA".
Yi was named the Rookie of the Month for December after averaging 12.1 points and 6.6 rebound per game in that month, and scoring a career-high 29 points on 14-of-17 shooting in the game against the Bobcats on December 22, 2007. On January 30, he was selected for the rookie team in the Rookie Challenge at the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. On February 2, 2008, Yi faced Yao for the second time when the Bucks played the Rockets in Milwaukee, which Krystkowiak dubbed it the "Chinese Super Bowl". However, both players struggled during the Rockets' 91–83 victory. Yao had 12 points, and Yi injured his shoulder during the game, finishing the game with 6 points and scoring on one of his ten field goal attempts.
On April 2, it was announced that Yi would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Having already missed eight games with other injuries, Yi played in only 66 (out of a possible 82) games in his rookie season, averaging 8.6 points on 42% shooting and 5.2 rebounds per game. One of Milwaukee's assistant coaches, Brian James, later said that "the injuries he had bothered him more than people realized, and he couldn't play through them."
New Jersey Nets
On June 26, 2008, Yi was traded along with Bobby Simmons to the New Jersey Nets for Richard Jefferson. The Nets team president Rod Thorn said that "we feel strongly he's going to be a real good player", and the team's chief executive Brett Yormark said "it opens up a truly new fan base for us." Yi said he didn't expect to be traded, but that it was "an honor to join the Nets."
Through his first 37 games with New Jersey, Yi averaged 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds a game, while shooting 39% from behind the three-point line, which was well above his average from the previous season. But on January 9, 2009, Yi broke the little finger on his right hand, and was expected to miss four to six weeks. Thorn called it "lousy timing" because "he'd been playing well", but Yi said "(I'll) just take my time. I'll come back." In voting for the 2009 All-Star Game, Yi finished third in total votes for Eastern Conference forwards, ahead of players such as Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh, which raised allegations of Chinese fans voting for Yi only because of his nationality.
Yi made his return from injury after the All-Star Game, in a loss to the Rockets on February 17. However, after averaging only 6 points on 36% shooting after his return, Yi was removed from the starting lineup. His final averages for the season were 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, as well as a 38% shooting percentage from the field, and 34% on three-point field goals. After the Nets finished the season outside of the 2009 playoffs, Yi's agent Fegan suggested the Nets played better when Yi played more minutes and took more shots, and said it "begs the question...who's accountable?" Head coach Lawrence Frank said that "you have to be patient. He's only 21," and Yi assessed his season by saying he was "still too much up and down".
In the 2009–10 season, Yi returned to the starting lineup. Starting in every game he played but one, Yi had several injuries during the season, which made him miss 30 games. He sprained his right MCL on November 4 (missed 16 games), had a laceration on his upper lip on December 8 (missed 8 games), and sprained his left ankle on March 8 (missed 6 games). His final averages for the season were 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, as well as a 40% shooting percentage from the field, and 37% on three-point field goals.
On June 29, 2010, Yi was traded to the Washington Wizards along with $3 million in cash considerations for Quinton Ross. The Wizards had until June 30, 2011 to extend the qualifying offer to Yi but did not.
On January 6, 2012, Yi was signed by the Dallas Mavericks to a 1-year contract. He was immediately assigned to Dallas' D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends. Yi benefited from the new CBA rules that allow players with more than two years of NBA experience to be assigned to the D-League with the players' consent. On January 9, 2012, after playing two games for the Legends, averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds per game, he was recalled by the Mavericks. The Mavericks would face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs. During game 3 of the playoff series, Jianlian played in his first NBA playoff game, in which he scored 2 points.
Yi's first major international experience came at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships, where he averaged 18.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He debuted with the senior national team in the 2004 Olympic Games and averaged 6 points and 6 rebounds a game at the 2006 FIBA World Championships. His performance impressed coaches on the Chinese national team as well as the coaches from other countries.
In 2008, Yi was once again selected to play for the national team in the Beijing Olympic Games. In China's first two groups games, Yi scored only 9 and 4 points respectively, and China lost both their games against the USA and Spain. But in a win against Angola, he recorded a double-double, and in the Chinese's second win against Germany, Yi had 9 points and 11 rebounds, and hit the crucial shot with 28 seconds left, to help China advance to the quarterfinals. However, Lithuania ended China's run by beating them 94–68, as Yi scored 11 points.
Yi Jianlian, along with former NBA player Sun Yue, was a member of the Chinese National Team that played at the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship and 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. Yi was named the MVP of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. He averaged 16.6 points, 10.8 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks.
Off the court
In 2004, Yi was listed as being born in 1984 in China's Four Nation Tournament, although Chinese officials said that it was probably a typographical error. Two years later, Fran Blinebury of The Houston Chronicle reported that Yi told Shane Battier he was 24 in an exhibition game before the 2006 FIBA World Championship, although the story was refuted by both Yi and Battier. Yi is not the first Chinese player to come under scrutiny, as former NBA player Wang Zhizhi has been listed as being born in both 1977 and 1979.
In 2006, a senior CBA official admitted that past youth squads had included players above the permitted age, and Yi's longtime American teammate in China, Jason Dixon, said to Chad Ford that Yi was "21 or 22...It's pretty common over [in China] to change ages". In 2007, a Chinese government registration website made public by hackers showed Yi's date of birth as being in October 27, 1984, and in December 2008, a Chinese reporter discovered a high school enrollment form dated October 20, 1997, that listed Yi as being born in October 27, 1984.
Yi is fluent in both Mandarin and his native tongue of Cantonese. He is currently under contract with Coca Cola and Yili (a Chinese dairy company) to endorse their products in China, and after a bidding war with Adidas, Nike signed Yi to a six-figure endorsement deal. He was ranked fourth on Forbes' Chinese celebrities list in income and popularity in 2008. In 2008, Yi donated 100,000 yuan to support the Sichuan earthquake victims, and also participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay by carrying the torch during the Hainan leg of the relay.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- "Yi Jianlian Info Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Jianlian Yi - 2010 FIBA World Championship". FIBA.com. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- "Yi Jianlian BIography and Olympic Results". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- Larmer, Brook (2005). Operation Yao Ming. Penguin Group. pp. 305–306. ISBN 0-7865-6098-3.
- Ford, Chad (October 4, 2007). "Like a veteran, rookie Yi dodges age question". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- Mannix, Chris (July 2, 2007). "Yi Jianlian". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Li, Xiao (September 22, 2003). "Little Giant Yi Jianlian: I Want to Play NBA Basketball". China.org.cn. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
- Larmer, Brook (August 24, 2003). "What's Next?". Time. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "NBA.com : Yi Jianlian Bio Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
- "2006 FIBA World Championships". Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "School of Economics and Management". Guangdong University of Technology. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
- Wojnarowski, Adrian (November 29, 2011). "China could block NBA players return". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
- Sun Xiaochen (September 25, 2012). "No Chinese in NBA as Yi returns to CBA". China Daily. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
- Rui, Zhau (November 3, 2006). "Yi can enter 2007 NBA draft". Retrieved 2007-03-02.
- "China's Yi Jianlian not ready for NBA yet". April 20, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "Chinese prospect Yi gets permission to enter '07 draft". November 3, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
- Sheridan, Chris (November 8, 2006). "Fegan will represent Yi for contract, marketing". Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "NBA Draft 2007: What's the Consensus?". NBA.com. June 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- Gardner, Charles F. (August 29, 2007). "Yi finally signs with the Bucks". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Checking the mail: Summer edition
- Marcus, David (July 1, 2007). "Senator Asks Chinese Star to Consider Bucks". todaystmj4.com. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- "Milwaukee brass signs Yi Jianlian on Hong Kong trip". USA Today. August 29, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- "Rookie to start Bucks' opener; Villanueva to come off bench". ESPN.com. October 30, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Lewis, Turkoglu lead Magic 3-point barrage in 102-83 victory over Milwaukee". Yahoo Sports!. October 31, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-15.
- "Redd, Yi Lead Bucks Past Bulls". NBA.com. November 4, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Chinese media hail Yi's NBA game". China Daily. November 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Yao's Rockets Beat Yi's Bucks". NBA.com. November 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- Ludden, Johnny (November 10, 2007). "Rookie Yi impresses elder statesman Yao". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Yi, Durant Named Rookies of the Month". NBA.com. January 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "Yi Scores Career-High 29, Leads Bucks Over Bobcats". NBA.com. December 23, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
- "Roy Headlines T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam". NBA.com. January 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "McGrady Sparks Rockets' Offense". NBA.com. February 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- Elund, Tom (April 2, 2008). "Knee injury forces Yi out for rest of season". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- D'Alessandro, Dave (October 25, 2008). "It's a tough call, but New Jersey Nets banking on Yi". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- "Nets acquire Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons from Milwaukee in exchange for Richard Jefferson". NBA.com. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- "Nets send top scorer Jefferson to Bucks for Yi, Simmons". ESPN.com. June 27, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- Robinson, Joshua (June 28, 2008). "By Adding Yi, Nets Hope to Expand Their Market". New York times. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Yi, Simmons traded for Richard Jefferson". beijing2008.cn. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Yi Jianlian Career Stats Page". NBA.com. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- Garcia, Julian (January 11, 2009). "Yi Jianlian & Nets find that pinkie injury is bad break". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Howard tops balloting for 2009 NBA All-Star Game". NBA.com. February 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- Spears, Marc J. (November 16, 2008). "In Dallas, Green grows into the job". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- Spears, Marc J. (January 17, 2009). "New Jersey rookie gains all-star support with votes from home". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- "Should Yi Jianlian play in the NBA All-Star game?". Xinhau. January 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- Duncan, Chris (February 17, 2009). "Battier, Yao lead Rockets past Nets 114-88". NBA.com. Retrieved 2009-04-07.
- Kerber, Fred (March 27, 2009). "Yi Out, Anderson In, Devin Gametime". New York Post. Retrieved 2009-04-07.[dead link]
- "NBA Standings - 2008-2009". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- D'Allesandro, Dave (April 12, 2009). "Agent suggests New Jersey Nets are to blame for Yi Jianlian's stalled development". New Jersey Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
- "Stats, scores and schedules". The Washington Post. June 18, 2011.
- "Mavericks sign forward Yi Jianlian". ESPN. January 6, 2012.
- "Dallas Mavericks Assign Yi Jianlian to Texas Legends". NBA. January 6, 2012.
- "NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement Seen Giving Boost To NBA Development League". NBA. December 8, 2011.
- "Mavs recall Yi Jianlian from D-League affiliate". NBA. January 9, 2012.
- "Yi Jianlian will join Mavs in Detroit". ESPN. December 9, 2011.
- "Mavs-Thunder box score". NBA. May 3, 2012.
- "USA-China Post Game Quotes (August 7, 2006)". USA Basketball. August 7, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- "Results Men's Preliminary Round Group B- Game 12 / United StatesUSA 101 vs 70 ChinaCHN". beijing2008.cn. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Results Men's Preliminary Round Group B- Game 22 / ChinaCHN 75 vs 85 SpainESP". beijing2008.cn. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Results: Men's Preliminary Round Group B- Game 33". beijing2008.cn. August 14, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- "Results: Men's Preliminary Round Group B- Game 47". beijing2008.cn. August 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- Blinebury, Fran (August 16, 2008). "Yao leads China over Germany at Olympics". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Results: Men's Quarterfinal - Game 66". beijing2008.cn. August 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
- "Information - FIBA Asian Calendar Events 2009". fibaasia.net. Retrieved November 13, 2009.[dead link]
- Smith, Aran (July 14, 2004). "Yi Jianlian actually 19 years old". NBADraft.net. Archived from the original on December 22, 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- "美媒体再炒易建联年龄 一夜老了三岁潜力不再". July 19, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-01.(Chinese)
- Blinebury, Fran (August 26, 2006). "China rushing to match talent on court before 2008 Olympics". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- "年龄问题再次引起争论易建联怒斥巴蒂尔太无聊". EastDay.com. August 29, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-11.(Chinese)
- "巴蒂尔：易建联定有望进入NBA 我不知道他几岁". 163.com. August 29, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-11.(Chinese)
- "ESPN - ZhiZhi Wang Stats, News, and Photos". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- "Player profile: Wang Zhizhi, 2006 FIBA World Championship". FIBA.com. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- "China admits to age fraud". Fox Sports. November 15, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- Ford, Chad (June 21, 2007). "Can Yi play at the NBA level? That's a good question". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- "易建联谎言被揭穿 真实年龄铁证曝光 即将23岁". CCTV.com. August 10, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-12.(Chinese)
- 易建联年龄水落石出 学籍表毕业照暴露秘密(图) (in Chinese)
- Walker, Don (August 29, 2007). "The promise of Yi is green". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Summers, Jane; Melissa Johnson-Morgan (2005). Sports Marketing. Thomson Learning Nelson. p. 303. ISBN 0-17-012859-8.
- "Yao Ming leads Forbes' Chinese celebrity list for fifth year". Xinhau. March 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- "Chinese athletes donate to earthquake-hit area". Xinhau. May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- "China welcomes home Olympic flame". Google News. May 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-04.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Yi Jianlian|
- Career statistics and player information from NBA.com
- (Chinese) Yi Jianlian on Sina Weibo
- Time magazine (August 24, 2003)
- Yi Jianlian Chinese fans site 建联网 | 易建联
- Yi's World on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 易世界
|Flagbearer for China