Wang Zhizhi Interview
Wang Zhizhi (see
photo), standing 7-1 tall, is the first player from China to ever play in
the NBA. Originally drafted by Dallas in the second round (36th overall) of the
1999 NBA draft, Wang has played for the Mavericks and Clippers and is now with
the Miami Heat. For his career, he has averaged 5.0 points and 1.9 rebounds in
10.3 minutes per game. InsideHoops.com recently met with Wang for an exclusive
InsideHoops.com: Where do you live these days, during the season and the summer?
Wang Zhizhi: I live in Miami right now. Miami's a nice city. But my home is in L.A. After the season I'm back in L.A.
InsideHoops.com: How young were you when you first started playing basketball?
Wang Zhizhi: Seven years old. Because my mother and father were basketball players. My father is a coach for little children. So, seven, eight years old, my father (and I) play together.
InsideHoops.com: Were you tall for your age when you were that young, seven years old?
Wang Zhizhi: Yes, tall. My father is 6'6", 6'7", my mother is 6'2", 6'3". Always play center for China.
InsideHoops.com: When you were a little kid, did you know that you had a good chance at making money playing basketball and doing it for work someday?
Wang Zhizhi: Only play basketball because I like (it). In camp, seven years old to fourteen, thirteen years old I already started to go to school. Only Saturdays, Sundays was I playing basketball
InsideHoops.com: When did you learn that you might be good enough to play basketball for a career?
Wang Zhizhi: No, I don't know, I only wanted to play basketball to play good. I like basketball. I want to play good, I want to help my country play Olympic games, play World Championship, I want that China's basketball is good.
InsideHoops.com: There are lots of very tall players in China now, more now than in the past.
Wang Zhizhi: But China needs good guard. Good guard and good forward. A lot of good center but is no guard (laughs), terrible, no pass ball, only center.
InsideHoops.com: So you need good guards there now.
Wang Zhizhi: Forwards is okay, but guard, I need good guard. America has a lot of good guards.
InsideHoops.com: That's different from the past, a reverse from the past.
Wang Zhizhi: (When I was a) young player, 16, 17 years old, I play basketball, China basketball association want a lot of center. Maybe 10 years ago, China, no center. Had good guard, good forward, no good center. Right now, a lot of good center, no guard. I don't know, it's difficult. Maybe 10 years ago, China wanted good center. They say, "If you have good center, China basketball very good," but right now have good center and need good guard.
InsideHoops.com: Overall, on average, is Chinese basketball better now than it was 10 years ago, or the same and just taller?
Wang Zhizhi: Center, good, guard, maybe no good. Ten years ago, China play number eight in Olympic games, and World Championship, number eight. Right now, maybe eleven, twelve, thirteen.
InsideHoops.com: The Olympics or the World Championship, what to you is more important? Because here in America fans and players know about and care about the Olympics a lot more than the World Championship.
Wang Zhizhi: I think both is important. China basketball want to play good, and have good players. Need some world champion or Olympic games to play good. Chinese people are very happy
InsideHoops.com: Are you going to China this summer?
Wang Zhizhi: Maybe I will. I want to see my mother and father. My mother and father are in Beijing.
InsideHoops.com: Any great young Chinese players that you can tell me about?
Wang Zhizhi: No, I don't know.