8 July 1977|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||243 lb (110 kg)|
|NBA draft||1999 / Round: 2 / Pick: 36th overall|
|Selected by the Dallas Mavericks|
|2002–2003||Los Angeles Clippers|
|2015–2018||Bayi Rockets (assistant)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Wang Zhizhi (Chinese: 王治郅; pinyin: Wáng Zhìzhì, pronounced [uǎŋ ʈʂîʈʂî]; born 8 July 1977) is a retired Chinese professional basketball player who most recently played for Bayi Rockets in the Chinese Basketball Association. He also played in the National Basketball Association for the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Miami Heat.
The son of two former basketball players, Wang Zhizhi started playing basketball at the age of 8, and when he was 14 his parents signed him to the People's Liberation Army, finding there the best coaching and facilities in China. He grew up watching weekly NBA game broadcasts in the Beijing television, idolizing Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. While he was born in 1977, when manufacturing his travel documents the authorities made his birth year 1979 so Wang could partake longer in youth athletics competitions.
Wang signed his first professional contract with Chinese Basketball Association side Bayi Rockets in 1994. When the Chinese Basketball Association first started in 1995, Wang was one of the youngest players to play in the league. Nevertheless, he soon became a starter in the star-studded team. From 1995 to his departure for the National Basketball Association in 2001, Wang and the import-less Bayi Rockets won all of the CBA championships, however, Bayi's dynasty was upended by Yao Ming and the Shanghai Sharks as soon as Wang left for the National Basketball Association. After the 2004–05 season, Wang returned to China and rejoined the Bayi Rockets in the Chinese Basketball Association. In March 2007, he guided Bayi to win the CBA championship for the seventh time in the team's history over the Guangdong Southern Tigers and he was named the most valuable player of the finals series. Wang announced his retirement at the end of the 2013–14 season; however, he came out of retirement the following season to help Bayi after the team went 0–7 in their first seven games. On July 12, 2016, Wang officially retired from professional basketball. However, he would also accept a new role with the Bayi Rockets as an assistant coach.
To the surprise of almost all Chinese basketball officials and reporters, the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association selected Wang with the 36th pick in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft. Dallas' assistant general manager Donnie Nelson had grown an interest in Wang ever since he spotted him in a 1993 game in Russia. Once Wang's agent Xia Song learned about Wang's real date of birth, which made him 22 and automatically eligible for the draft, he contacted Nelson and started arranging for his client to join the NBA. Xia was in Dallas on draft night, and had a proof of Wang's age through his old military identification. Unprepared and confused, the Bayi Rockets refused to allow their only center to leave for the National Basketball Association, at least immediately.
After long periods of negotiations, Wang was finally let go by his team and the Chinese basketball officials to pursue his NBA dream, two years after he was drafted. He became the first ever Chinese player to play in the National Basketball Association. Wang arrived in Dallas after winning his last CBA championship title when there were fewer than ten games left in the 2000–01 season. Despite some adjustment difficulties, Wang managed well by averaging 4.8 points per game and 1.4 rebounds per game, making the team's playoff roster. Two days after Dallas were eliminated from the playoffs, Wang hurried back to China to play in the 2001 East Asian Games according to an agreement formed between the Chinese authorities and the Dallas Mavericks. However, Wang still had one obligation to fulfill before being allowed to return to the National Basketball Association. His former club Bayi requested that he stay in China to play in the 2001 National Games in November 2001. Wang returned to Dallas after barely defeating Yao Ming's Shanghai team by one point in the final, but he found that he had a lot of catching up to do as other players already had two months of preparation and training.
Wang's contract with Dallas expired after the 2001–02 season. With his future up in the air, he decided that he would spend the summer in the United States, rather than returning to China for training, as the Dallas Mavericks had promised the Chinese basketball officials. Wang fired his agent Xia Song when the latter suggested otherwise, and following the advice of his American-born Chinese friend Simon Chan, moved to Los Angeles without telling either Dallas or his Chinese side about his intentions. During his stay, Chinese basketball officials faxed two letters to him urging him to return to China as soon as possible to train with the Chinese national basketball team. A major blow to all parties involved was an article by Jodie Valade that appeared in The Dallas Morning News which hinted that Wang, who had not yet stated his intentions, might consider defecting to the United States. China sent two military officials who had known Wang very well to go to the United States for a final negotiation. During a press conference, Wang stressed that the relationship between him and the Chinese was like one between "a son and a mother", and the conflict was all but misunderstanding. He was ultimately dismissed from the Chinese national team for failing to return to China for practice in 2002.
Wang signed for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2002 and after a season with them, he was placed on waivers. The Miami Heat decided to sign Wang to a multi-year contract after picking him up. He became a free agent at the end of the 2005 season after playing for two seasons with Miami.
Wang became the first ever Chinese player to be invited to play for the international squad against the best American high school players in the prestigious Nike Hoop Summit. He started the game and scored six points and six rebounds. He was then offered a basketball scholarship from John Thompson to play for Georgetown University. Wang was included in the Chinese national basketball team for the 1996 Summer Olympics, where he averaged 11.1 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game, helping the team to finish as 8th place overall. After leading the Chinese national team to the 1999 FIBA Asia Championship title, Wang again starred for China in the 2000 Summer Olympics, averaging 13.5 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game.
On 10 April 2006, following weeks of rumors from the Chinese media, Wang returned to China from the National Basketball Association after being expelled from the national team for four years due to conflicts with Chinese officials. He publicly apologized for his past mistakes and stated that he wanted to represent his national team in the 2006 FIBA World Championship as well as the 2008 Summer Olympics. Over a period of four weeks in the lead-up to the 2006 FIBA World Championship, he was a significant contributor to the Chinese national team in the absence of injured Houston Rockets player Yao Ming, scoring 4.3 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game in eight matches before suffering a torn ligament during an exhibition against France in July 2006. Wang recovered in time to play in the tournament and averaged 8.2 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.
|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|
- Wang Zhizhi's great leap forward into American, NBA culture
- Brook Larmer (2005). Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business, and the Making of an NBA Super star. Penguin. pp. 159–166. ISBN 9781101216613.
- FIBA profile
- The Reeducation Of Lt. Wang
- Li, Patrick. "Beijing-Born Wang Zhizhi Retires from Professional Basketball Before China Faces USA in the 2016 Olympics". The Beijinger. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
- "N.B.A.: ROUNDUP; Mavericks Let Wang Go to the Clippers". The New York Times. October 17, 2002. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012.