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.”