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Wang Zhi Zhi

Wang (tall guy in the back) helps out with China's bid for the 2008 Olympics.
Wang

The Great Wall of China has arrived in Dallas. Well, not exactly the whole wall - but a very big part of China is now playing basketball for the Dallas Mavericks. That big part is the seven foot tall, Wang Zhi Zhi. When Wang played his first game for the Mavs on April 5, 2001, he became the first Asian born player ever to play in the NBA.

Wang was a basketball superstar in China before setting foot in America. During the 2000 season, he led the Bayi Rockets to their sixth straight Chinese Basketball Association title. The year before he was named league MVP and won China's slam dunk contest. Wang was also a star on China's national team. He teamed up with fellow seven footers, Yao Ming and Menk Bateer, to form "The Walking Great Wall."

As part of this "great wall", Wang grabbed the attention of NBA scouts during the 1996 Olympic Games. They saw a guy who was not only tall - but he could also move quickly and shoot the ball from all over the court. The Dallas Mavericks drafted him in 1998, but he couldn't play for them until 2001, after he had completed his contract with the Chinese Army team. Now, that Wang is in Dallas, the Mavericks have a very international flavor. They have a Canadian point guard (Steve Nash), a German power forward (Dirk Nowitski) and now a Chinese centre.

  • Wang's basketball abilities come from more than just his height. It's also in his blood. Both of his parents were basketball stars in China.

  • Wang says he wears #16 for the Dallas Mavericks for good luck. He wears #15 for the Bayi Rockets and #14 for the Chinese national team.

  • One of the first things Wang plans to buy in America is a Lincoln Navigator - his favorite car.

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