A meeting of the old guard and the new generation is a once-in-a-decade experience in any sport, but for Chinese basketball, such encounters have an extra special meaning. Obsessed with seeing their countrymen in the NBA, each rising hopeful is the next chance to make that happen. But at the same time, there are also those who made it to America but never quite managed to stick around. Invariably they return to the CBA as gatekeepers, waiting for the next young mainlander to travel down the road to the NBA.
It has been almost ten years since the last true match-up took place, and both of the names will be familiar. In 2006, Wang Zhizhi, once the jewel in the Chinese basketball youth system, had returned to China after a disappointing tenure in the NBA. It hadn’t worked out and amid pressure from Beijing, Wang returned home to try and reclaim a place in the national team.
This article first appeared on One World Sports. You can read this and other CBA content on their website twice a week.