Ted Leonsis is pleased as punch with the Yi Jianlian acquisition (or a juice box — the above picture evidently advertises juice, and not milk). Can’t blame him too much … although, there is certainly reason to be skeptical of Yi. I do think he will be a pleasant surprise. It just all depends on your baseline standards for being surprised.
In linking Michael Lee’s Sunday story about Yi in the Washington Post on his blog, Ted’s Take, Leonsis writes:
He is 7 feet tall. He is fast. He is talented. He is still developing.
He will toughen up through international play. He can shoot the ball.
This trade was a subtle one and an important one for us.
Yi will be in our rotation. Our fans will like his game.
I am happy we made this trade.
You will be, too.
Yi is also China’s “Mr. Basketball.” We are proud to have him our team. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in China will see the Wizards play now on a regular basis. That is a pretty cool by product of the trade as well but we traded for him for his skills and and his upside.
The title of Leonsis’ blog post is “He is Only 22 Years Old.” That is, of course, if you believe Yi’s Chinese birth certificate. There are many reports that Yi was actually born on October 28, 1984, which would mean that he will turn 26 soon. Draft Express lists Yi with an ’84 birthday, not the “official” ’87 birth date. For more on the whole ordeal, on which Yi has refused to comment, you can read here, here and here. Nothing, at least in my web search, has still been concluded … and China has a history with suspect athlete birth certificates. So, the situation is teetering on a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ scenario. Of course, as Leonsis insinuates, eyeballs from China are good for the franchise … regardless.
But without further delay, the below quote is from a Dime Magazine blog post that was published on Saturday evening:
“Kevin Love’s spot should be safe, but he wasn’t great, either. The only time he really stood out was when Yi Jianlian got a step on him and threw down a dunk that K-Love had better hope won’t pop up on YouTube.” - Dime Magazine
And this was via a scrimmage between Team USA and Team China on Saturday that was closed to the public. Jianlian’s 11 points, 3-15 FG shooting performance in a televised exhibition game between China and Puerto Rico on Sunday has already been described as “dismal” by the AP. Truth About It’s Rashad Mobley will have a forthcoming write-up on Yi’s game that was seen on NBA TV (I’ve yet to watch as I was at the Washington Mystics-Seattle Storm game, but I have the game recorded).
Well, Kevin Love can stop hoping. I’m not going to put the dunk on YouTube, but I will put it as a looping GIF below (footage of the dunk was briefly shown during Sunday’s USA-France exhibition game). And honestly, the dunk really wasn’t that great, or even ‘on’ Love (it was more against him). Start the anti-climactic comparisons to the Jordan Crawford dunk on LeBron James.