Del Harris with young Chinese ballers in 2008
Yi Jianlian’s return from the historically horrendous New Jersey Nets’ injured reserve was delayed further when he took a hit to the face in a post-practice 3-on-3 game that required 50 stitches to his lip. Yi had been expected to return to the lineup against the New York Knicks Sunday. New Jersey went on to lose the battle of the embarrassingly bad Big Apple teams, and is now just one loss away from dropping five times as many games as Yi has played in this season.
Yi is joined on the bench now by an old friend–Del Harris, the retired NBA coach who has been brought on as an assistant.
Harris’ choice for his return to the bench–the team with the only (sort of) active Chinese player in the NBA–is an interesting one. Harris coached China at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and gave the then supposedly 16-year-old Yi a bigger role on the team. He has made several trips to China since, including joining John Calipari when he brought the University of Memphis to play a series against the Chinese National Team months before the Beijing Olympics.
Harris returned for the Beijing games, and was in China again this fall for the FIBA Asia Championship in Tianjin. He recently launched a Web site in China in conjunction with Scottie Pippen and Donnie Nelson. Wohoops.com (translation, My Hoops) is a basketball social networking site that also offers original instructional video content.
When Harris visited Guangdong with Calipari in 2008, he donned a crisp white polo with the Wohoops.com logo for their joint coaching clinic, and he was accompanied on the trip by representatives from Blastoff Ventures, which is also involved in the startup.
Hmm… It’s starting to look more understandable why Harris would leave the cozy confines of his Texas home to spend the winter back up north coaching one of the worst teams in the history of the league–Wofreemarketing.
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