4/30/2006 Houston (AP) -- With Yao Ming's status in question, China's first NBA player Wang Zhizhi was on Sunday put back on China's national team roster ahead of the world championships and issued a statement apologizing for letting down his country.
"I want to tell everyone a once-impulsive teenager has become a father with a sense of responsibility. Big Zhi is back. Big Zhi won't let you down. Watch my concrete actions," Wang wrote in a statement published Sunday on the Chinese news website Sina.com. Big Zhi is his nickname. Wang, a centre who played with China's Bayi Rockets military team before joining the NBA, angered the Chinese basketball association by refusing to return for national team duties following his 2001-2002 rookie season in the U.S.
He was expelled from the Chinese national squad after he refused to come back for the Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, in October 2002. But Yao's availability for the world championships starting Aug. 19 in Sapporo, Japan, is in doubt because he is recovering from foot surgery. Yao Ming wasn't on the roster announced Sunday but Wang was.
Wang, who recently returned to China, said in his statement that he had wrongly placed his interests above the country's.
"I can say every bit of progress and achievement I compiled are the result of the country's and military's meticulous cultivation. However ... I only considered my personal gain and loss. I weighed my personal interests too heavily," he said.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)