Detroit Pistons center Rasheed Wallace
(L) drives against New Jersey Nets forward Yi Jianlian, of China, during
the first half of their NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Michigan, on
Wednesday, December 31, 2008. (Photo: Xinhua/Reuters)
BEIJING, Jan. 5 -- The rosters for this year's NBA All-Star game are
beginning to take shape following the third round of votes. Chinese player Yi
Jianlian of the New Jersey Nets, buoyed by a strong Chinese voting contingent,
is third among the forwards in the Eastern Conference balloting.
With a gap of 150,000 votes, Yi may have the chance
to start in the All-Star game by catching up with Boston's Kevin Garnett, who is
now in second place.
But an article in the Beijing Youth Daily notes that
controversy has arisen in China over whether Yi Jianlian is qualified to play in
the All-Star game at all.
Supporters say because the NBA has gone through a
process of globalization in the past 20 years, the composition of its fans has
also changed accordingly.
China's 350 million basketball fans have become an
important group for the NBA, so it is not surprising that Yi, a Chinese
national, rank thirds in the voting. They believe the votes cast by Chinese fans
should carry equal weight with those cast by American or German fans, and they
have called on others to be self-confident in participating in the vote.
But others argue that Yi's skills are not good enough
for him to become a starter in the All-Star game. They say some fans have voted
for him repeatedly or even resorted to manipulating computer software in an
attempt to give him enough votes to be included on the All-Star game's roster.
Those that believe Yi's skills as a basketball player are below par say the
level of All-Star game is lowered by such tactics, which constitute cheating.
They also note that forcing the NBA's global fans to accept the voting results
of Chinese fans is not good for the future development of Yi, whom they believe
is not qualified to take part in the All-Star game at present.