China Rumors

Mudiay had resisted playing in China. “Hell no was my first response,” he says. But Guangdong offered him a chance to support his family. For years Mudiay had watched his mother work 10-hour days. He wanted her to stop, so he took the best offer he had. Therese quit her job and moved to China with him. Stephane, too. The Tigers rented the family an apartment in a high rise five minutes from their arena. China, predictably, required adjustments. Two-a-days every day. Weights in the morning, skill work in the afternoon. The game there was more physical. Mudiay competed mostly against grown men—Yi Jianlian, an NBA lottery pick in 2007, was one of his teammates—and referees were more reticent with their calls. Once, early in the season, Mudiay was clotheslined. No whistle. “Totally different level of physical play,” he says.
Mudiay skipped the draft combine last month; individual workouts are most teams’ only opportunity to get a look at him. The clubs with the top four picks—the Timberwolves, Lakers, 76ers and Knicks—are all interested. After an injury-riddled year in China, executives are eager to see the once-heralded prospect in action. “His body of work there was too small to make a bold prediction on what he is going to be,” says Ryan Blake, senior scouting consultant to the NBA. “He’s high risk, high reward.” To most teams, the games Mudiay did play in China mean little. “It’s terrible competition,” an Eastern Conference GM says of the CBA. “Everyone’s stats are inflated. Look at what Andray Blatche is doing. [During the 2014–15 season Blatche averaged 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 steals for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.] Summer-league games are better. [Mudiay] is a great talent, but that year was almost a wasted year.”
Iverson and the crew all made it back to America safe and sound. But the damage remains in China. Iverson’s fans were completely misled and misinformed causing a bad spell on his image. Li Dong and David Lee, two Chinese agents looking to become big players in the market had no regard for proper business etiquette. They took this opportunity as a cash grab, without any consideration for Iverson or his fans, they saw dollars signs and stopped at nothing to grab it. While Iverson still loves his fans in China, he had this to say, “I will never come back to China because of David Lee and Li Dong.”
At this point Abdur-Rahim is crushed. He’s known Li Dong for over two year and thought he had built a solid relationship with him but that all collapsed. Li Dong embarrassed Abdur-Rahim, who was representing Iverson. “It was a really, really bad feeling. To know that the people you are supposed to trust and do business with are lying to you and misleading the public.” But things got really scary when the Hefei government sided with Li Dong and David Lee rather than offer protection like the Xi’An government did. “In Hefei, the government wouldn’t even show up. We called down from our room, and the staff at the Westin hotel said the government wants Iverson to play and they weren’t coming. Then they cut all the phone lines from our room so we couldn’t call out.”
So there it was. Li Dong will pay Iverson $1.5 million to play two-minutes per game in the next four games of the tour, David Lee doesn’t go to jail and won’t commit suicide, and Li Dong’s name will be cleared from all of his mistakes he made from misleading the public to straight up lying to local promoters. But $1.5 million is a big number. And Abdur-Rahim knew that these two agents were shady. So he writes up another contract stating the new details and that the reason for signing a new contract is because the first one was breached. “We didn’t trust these guys. So we said money up front. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I could see Li Dong panicking a little when this was all going down. So as expected they couldn’t do the $1.5 million up front. Li Dong said he could front $1 million up front and the rest on August 2nd. So we agreed on that.”
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Prior to Iverson’s arrival, Li Dong made a side deal with the local promoter of Harbin stating Iverson to play in the game. So the local promoter had no problems selling tickets to local fans advertising the former NBA MVP to play in an exhibition game. Li Dong knew the contract with Iverson is a coaching only contract. But coaching might not sell tickets, and in the end, coaching might not get Li Dong the money he wants. So what Li Dong thought he could do, is lie to the local promoters, and have the local promoters lie to the fans, and finally try and use some convincing skills to make Iverson play. But Iverson wasn’t budging. He is in no shape to be playing. So when Iverson refused Li Dong’s constant effort to make him play, Li Dong was in trouble. According to sources familiar with the situation, Li Dong approached some of the American players from ‘Team Iverson’ after the game and demanded them to tell the Chinese media that Iverson didn’t play due to a leg injury.
Who will win the 2015 championship? Kobe Bryant, analyzing for Sina Sports in China, was asked to predict: “Golden State should win. But they can’t play tentatively. They can’t play scared. You’ve got play. You’ve got to step up and meet the challenge. And right now, Cleveland and LeBron, it seems like they want it a lot more. It seems like the game, this championship means a lot more to them. If you’re Golden State, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want to step up to this challenge”.
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“I don’t really think it matters,” he said before Game 3, when asked if the Cavaliers use too much isolation in an interview with Sina Sports. “Because what you’re trying to do is, you’re trying to create mismatches. So if LeBron can catch the ball and face up, and command two to three guys, now you have spacing on the weak side. So it really doesn’t matter. If you have shooters and guys that can make shots that are comfortable catching and shooting without a lot of movement, then I think they can get away with it. They just have to keep the game close.”
“A lot of people think it was because I couldn’t get into SMU,” Mudiay said. “But I got cleared to go to SMU. Everything was fine there. But I decided to help my mom out. She was struggling at the time. “People can say what they say. I don’t pay attention to that. I only care what God says, to be honest with you. You are going to have critics in life. People are going to talk but you can’t feed into that and I don’t feed into that. I try to inspire other people by what I did. My mom had been the backbone of our family since I was born. She’s been the man and the woman. She’s my motivation. To see her work 7 to 7. I didn’t want her to go on like that no more.”
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Mudiay said the change to his body came out of necessity. The Chinese Basketball league is filled with NBA veterans and very loose officiating. He just got beaten up over there. “The biggest adjustment for me was the physicality,” Mudiay told ESPN.com. “It was ridiculous. They miss a lot of calls over there. I had to spend a lot of time in the weight room every single day. I dedicated myself to working on my body. At this point, I’m not trying to separate myself by saying this, but a lot of kids my age don’t pay attention to their body this early. So by me going over there, that’s another plus. By me focusing on my body, I feel like I’m more ready than most for the league.”
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A free agent once again this summer, Will Bynum said Guangdong has a standing three-year offer for him to return. He is “definitely considering it” but will seek a comparable deal from an NBA team before making a decision. “The difference is for me, I didn’t come over there with the mentality to get mines, coming over there to score,” said Bynum, who averaged 22.3 points and 7.1 assists in 30 games for Guangdong. “I came over there with the mentality to win and teach the organization how to win, sharing the basketball and learning how to win. There’s a difference between people just coming over there for a couple months. That’s why they want me to come back for three years because of the way that I played and the effect I had on the organization and the players. Because not only was I playing well myself but I was getting other people involved and making it easier for our team and having fun with it.”
We witnessed the developments in Ukraine with Fratello and Volkov’s departure in the foreground. The first question that comes to mind is whether he will compete in the upcoming Eurobasket with the national team of Ukraine. Pooh Jeter: “I’m not going to play with the national team this summer. One reason is that Fratello and Volkov are not on the team. The last two summers were great. It was a great chance for me to help a team that hadn’t achieved something major to play well in a Eurobasket and qualify to a World Cup. I have a history with the team since 2008 and I’ve been through a lot with all the guys there. I remember that most people had predicted that we would be last in the rankings.
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What does the future hold for you? Is your priority to stay in Europe or to return to China? Pooh Jeter: “I will sit and look at my options with my agent B.J. Armstrong when the season is over. It’s a very possible scenario that I sign with Shandong and return to China. It will be my 4th season there. I started my professional career in Europe, the last few summers I played against the best point guards in the world and I showed what I’m capable of. I was opposite players like Irving, Derrick Rose, Goran Dragic, all the top Spanish guards and all the top European players in general.
Iverson remained on the sideline as coach, and after the game went to a promotional dinner that included Yao Ming. When Iverson readied to depart for a 6 a.m. flight Thursday to Xi’an, sources say local fans and promotors closed off transportation, leaving him without a plane until later in the day. There was strong support within Iverson’s family to scrap the tour and return to the United States. As one source told RealGM, “He did everything he could to leave for his next city, and they still held him hostage. For a guy who’s beloved in China, it was ridiculous.”
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Despite signing an agreement to coach a Chinese tour, Allen Iverson has been pushed so hard to play by local promoters in Harbin, China, that officials held the 11-time NBA All-Star in the city and delayed his next stop, sources told RealGM on Thursday. Iverson won in his head coaching debut Wednesday, leading Team Iverson to a 10-point victory over Lioning. A future basketball Hall of Famer, Iverson no longer has a desire to play, thus signing a coaching deal for the tour. Still, local promoters in Harbin wanted him to step outside of his contract and put on a jersey, later preventing him to move forward on the tour against his will, sources said.
Mudiay, who can speak French, understands how to adjust to new cultures. He went from being born in the Congo to living in the states for high school and then heading to China to play professionally. Even though he sprained his ankle there and missed most of the season—he’s been healed for a few months—he stuck out his contract and put in the rehab and shooting work. “One of my clients is Yi Jianlian, and he played with Emmanuel in China,” Joe Abunassar said. “The first thing he said to me about Emmanuel was, ‘He’s a good kid and a hard worker and a really good player.'”
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“If it’s a team like Philly, how could they draft [Karl-Anthony] Towns or [Jahlil] Okafor if they have the first pick, when they already have Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid? And they traded Michael Carter-Williams [this season],” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “Maybe they move down and pick two or three, but [Emmanuel] Mudiay or [D’Angelo] Russell could go No. 1. Sam Hinkie is a wild card. He was the only GM to see Mudiay in person in China.” “I think it’s open at the top,” another East general manager said. “I think there’s a lot of talent up there, and it’s fairly deep. It wouldn’t shock me if one of the guards went No. 1.”