Show Up and Play

What gives a rookie player the right to tell a team that is ready and willing to pay him millions of dollars, that I will not play. Yi Jianlian has never set foot on a basketball court in this country, yet he knows that the Bucks are not the right team for him. That is ludicrous. I bet he cannot even name five players on the roster, or five players on the roster of one of the teams he would play for.

This is more about marketing, money, and power. Yi’s agent, the Chinese government, which I feel plays a big role in this regardless of what we hear, and the NBA for that matter, all want Yi in a big metropolitan area with a heavy Asian population. Think Matsui in NY, Ichiro in Seattle, Dice-K in Boston. Unfortunately, the rules are the rules. Greg Oden was being picked first, regardless if the ping pong ball landed on Memphis, Portland, or Boston. Rookies go where they are picked. If Yi was a better player, maybe Boston would have selected him fifth.

The trade request, or mandate, is not without precendent, yielding both superstars and super busts. John Elway refused to go Baltimore, saw his wish granted, then proceeded to stick it to the Colts becoming one of the best players ever. On the other hand, Hideki Irabu had to be a Yankee, no choice in the matter. Ask Steinbrenner now how he feels about trading for the fat toad. In my book, Yi has less leg to stand on. Unproven at the professional level and collegiate level, the demand will not be exceedingly high, based on what the Bucks should request in return for a sixth pick.

My only hope is that the Bucks hold their ground and the league stays out of the matter. Milwaukee has the leverage since Yi must play for them, or go back to China. The best Yi can do is hold out, passing up the chance to play in the NBA, become a multi-millionaire, and escape China. The Bucks are not obligated to trade him, and unlike baseball, where a player can re-enter the draft a year later, they will continue to retain his rights.

Losing a first round lottery pick is tough to swallow, but having an inexperienced rookie threaten a team is unacceptable. Yi should shut up and play, then take the pick of the litter three years from now. Maybe Milwaukee is not as bas as it sounds. Hey, that Kareem guy did pretty good for himself.


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