|Draft:||Round 2, 36th Overall|
Wang Zhizhi (born July 8, 1977 in Beijing, China) was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft.
Wang came from a basketball family as both his mother and father played the game. He joined the Chinese Army team in 1994 at the young age of 17. The next year marked the beginning of the Chinese Basketball Association and his team, the Bayi Rockets, won the league championship every year until Wang left to join the NBA in 2001.
He first visited America when he became the first Asian player invited to play for the international team in the Nike Hoop Summit Game. So impressed was Georgetown coach John Thompson with Wang that he offered the 7'1 center a scholarship on the spot.
Spurning the offer and returning to China, Wang led the Chinese National team to the 1999 Asia Championship title and played for China in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where he averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as the team finished tenth.
Although his birth year was listed as 1979, the Mavericks obtained, through his agent, official documents which proved Wang was born in 1977 thus making him eligible for the NBA draft. Dallas selected him in the second round of the 1999 draft making him a project for the future.
The Chinese Army initially refused to allow Wang to play in the United States. However, after ongoing negotiations, he was released to come to Dallas two years after he was drafted. He made it late in the 2000-2001 season and appeared in five games averaging 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in just over 7 minutes per game and, in doing so, became the first Chinese player to ever play in the National Basketball Association.
The summer after that first partial season, Wang returned to China to play for the Chinese National team. He was late in arriving for his second season with the Mavs and was behind the other players in learning the team's system. He did go on to enjoy his most successful NBA season in '01-'02 when he averaged 5.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in 55 games. Perhaps his most shocking stat that season was his .414 (48-116) 3-PT field goal percentage...certainly not the norm for a big man.
Wang's contract was up following his second season in Dallas and the 7'1 center opted to ignore the agreement made with Chinese Officials and remain in the United States through the summer of 2002. He was playing for Golden State's entry in the California Summer League when China sent two military officers to speak with him. The officials left empty-handed and Wang was allowed to stay. He signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Clippers (reportedly 3 years, 6 million dollars), where he appeared in 41 games in '02-'03 averaging 4.4 points and 1.9 rebounds.
The 2003-2004 campaign began with Wang again with the Clippers. However, after seeing action in only two games he was sent to the Miami Heat where he finished the season seeing action in 14 games. The following season he played in 20 games for the Heat posting 2/2 ppg and 0.9 rpg averages. That season marked Wang's last in the NBA.
In August of 2006, Wang Zhizhi returned home to China, and following a public apology, rejoined both the Chinese National team and his former Bayi Rockets team, again leading them to the 2007 CBA Championship and being named Most Valuable Player of the series.