Wang Time

Why are the Mavs still going cuckoo for Zhi Zhi? Because it's all about the upside.

If the Chinese do relent and send Wang packing, it will certainly benefit the Mavericks. Wang has been compared to Sixers forward Toni Kukoc, a big man with soft hands, the ability to dish or spot up or drain a long jumper. Although Chinese basketball is unrefined--inferior competition and suspect coaching have created a contingent of detractors--there aren't too many Wang bashers floating about.

"Look," says one out-of-town NBA beat writer, "he did well in [the Olympics] in Sydney, and he's got tools. It's tough to find a 7-footer, let alone a 7-footer with a jumper. And even if the Mavs don't use him, if for some reason he doesn't fit in, they can dangle him in a trade next year. Do you know how many teams would love a big guy with coordination? The line forms way in the back."

With all the bureaucratic b.s. involved, it's unlikely Wang will be here this season unless a whole lot of things go right. And quickly.

But what if they do? What if the United States and China stop being such punks? What if everyone takes a step back, inhales deeply, and figures out that this should be about basketball, about seeing if Wang can hang? Surely, it would benefit the Mavericks as the season funnels into the playoffs. Surely, it would be a good move for both countries and for Wang. Surely, it would create a worldwide buzz, at least among the hardwood set.

(Happy music here) Surely, the world would be a better place.

Well, a better place for everyone but Ortegel. He'd surely have to be permanently restrained.

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