Washington Wizards forward Yi Jianlian scored the game-winning free throw Sunday as China defeated Jordan 70-69, which gave China the rights to the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. Yi led China with a team-high 25 points on 50% shooting. He also secured a whopping 16 rebounds and blocked 6 shots. In short, Yi dominated. However, the Wizards haven’t shown great interest in Yi’s 2011-12 return. While Yi has succeeded overseas, his tenure in the NBA has fallen short. If the NBA lockout ended today, as talks resume in New York, would Washington give the international talent another chance to translate?
If today is another fruitless venture between the NBA and the NBA Player’s Association, tomorrow will be the 90th day of the 2011 NBA lockout. Back in April, Wizards Insider wrote about Yi’s uncertain future in Washington. Five months later, the entire 2011-12 season is uncertain. However, back in April, Yi, who will turn 24-years-old on October 27th, remained optimistic. “Things happen,” Yi told the media. “I can do nothing about injury. For me, it’s not like it’s the last year I play in my career.” While Yi still has time to mature as a player, Rashard Lewis is still on contract and the addition of rookie Jan Vesely suggests the Wizards were not satisfied with their 2010-2011 front court depth.
From an economic standpoint, Washington ought to deal Lewis, who still has two years left on a $21 mil contract. Lewis can still play, but his knee issues cost him–and the Wizards–25 missed games last year. For Lewis, age is a factor, on a team which should build young to surround the core of John Wall (and Jordan Crawford). Yi, on the other hand, is consistently injured. In his four-year NBA career, Yi has missed over a quarter of his 328 eligible games due to injury or recovery time. He may be documented as young, but his injury history suggests otherwise. Speaking of documents, if you’re checking out the boxscore, it doesn’t seem as if Yi Li is related to Yi Jianlian (when Chinese names are anglicized their family name, or last name, comes first, such as “Yi”).
‘Brooklyn’ Nets and ‘Miami’ Marlins
In 2012, sports fans will have two reissued franchises to enjoy: the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA and the Miami Marlins of the MLB. The former team, which will play at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, will be headed by entertainment mogul and accomplished rapper Jay-Z, who has been working on this project for several years. The latter team will join the Miami Heat of the NBA and the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, while the Florida Panthers of the NHL will remain as the only professional sports team named after the state of Florida rather than a city within the state.
Wizards forward Josh Howard honored at “Power & Influence”
NBA baller Josh Howard and sports marketing professional Shavannia Williams were honored for their positive contributions to society Thursday at the inaugural Power & Influence: Celebrating Generation NEXT. Commun PR were on the scene, and graciously sent me a recap of the event, which took place at the Lux Lounge, in Washington, D.C., during the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference.
“Howard, founder of the Josh Howard Foundation, implements programs in various cities to support youth and senior citizens. Williams, the founder of Heels & Helmets, works to educate women about the ins and outs sports. A portion of the event proceeds will go to the Josh Howard Foundation and the Maya Angelou Public Charter School.”
Howard, like Yi, is a free agent this year, and may not be a Wizard again. However, wherever he may go, his work in the community will shape where he lands. Speaking of which, here’s an old commercial featuring former Wizard Antawn Jamison’s KaBOOM campaign. While Jamison will retire as one of the greats to wear a Wizards uniform, his charitable work might be remembered most. While the lockout continues, it’s nice to step back and acknowledge what NBA Cares has accomplished, as well as the individual contributions of Wizards like Howard and Jamison.