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NBA team bounces back into Beijing

[ 2009-09-09 12:57]     字号 [] [] []  
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The first time Wes Unseld visited China was in August 1979 when the then 33-year-old basketball star arrived with his teammates from the NBA's Washington Bullets.

The team, known today as the Washington Wizards, played two exhibition games against Chinese teams following a personal invitation from then senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. At the time, China and the US had recently resumed diplomatic ties.

Thirty years later, the 63-year-old Hall of Famer said he was proud to think of the way the goodwill tour built bonds between the nations.

"It's very rewarding to think that 30 years ago, we started the process of building the relationship between our two countries," Unseld said yesterday in Beijing. "It's very humbling for someone like me to think that I shared a very small part of that. I am very proud to come back."

Unseld's son, Wes Unseld Jr, is now an assistant coach with the Wizards.

The legendary former player will be joined in China by Wizards' all-star player Caron Butler and Gheorghe Muresan, who used to play for the Wizards and who was the tallest player in the NBA.

The Wizards and their entourage arrived in China at the invitation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. They were asked to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the landmark visit and the normalization of relations between China and the US.

Among the players Unseld faced 30 years ago was Yao Zhiyuan. The pair did battle during the tour's second game, in Shanghai. Yao is the father of Chinese basketball icon Yao Ming, who plays for the NBA's Houston Rockets and who is the most recognized Chinese person in the US.

"I just discovered that Yao Ming's father was on the team I played against in Shanghai 30 years ago," said Unseld. "I have one request to make, if you have any more Yao Mings, please send them to the Washington Wizards."

The trip this time is about more than building ties between the US and China. The Wizards also hope to tap into the vast market in China, where the NBA is phenomenally popular.

Peter Biche, president of the Wizards, is hoping the appeal of the US capital city will help him sell his team in China.

"Washington DC is a powerful city and the sister city of Beijing. So that's a reason to have a connection," he said.


1. Who invited the NBA's Washington Bullets, as they were known in 1979, to play in China?

2. What job does Wes Unseld’s son have?

3. Who is the most recognized Chinese person in the US, according to the story?


1. Deng Xiaoping.

2. Assistant coach with the Washington Wizards.

3. Yao Ming.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

NBA team bounces back into Beijing

About the broadcaster:

NBA team bounces back into Beijing

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.