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Brave Dragons: A Chinese Basketball Team, an…

Brave Dragons: A Chinese Basketball Team, an American Coach, and Two…

by Jim Yardley

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An interesting collection of stories about a year the author spent in China following a pro basketball team. I describe this book as a collection because there did not seem to be an overarching story to connect the chapters together. There are references to the YMCA starting to teach basketball in China over 100 years ago. The author mentions that the current YMCA in China is not part of the international YMCA. There are many references to the various Chinese stars in the NBA. The ex-NBA coach, Robert Weiss, is a central character. The various players come and go. The unusual owner of the Dragons is very important to the story, but the author seems to not have much insight. The author shares quite a few stories where people call the owner crazy. One chapter goes into much detail about the transfer of Spalding's basketball manufacturing to China. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winner. Each chapter is pretty interesting by intself but I was disappointed that it did not add up to much in my mind. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
A fun read and wonderfully reported allegory on the complex dynamics of foreigner and local relationships in China. The writing is excellent and the superb reporting and storytelling makes this a far superior book than those written by James Fallows and other China-philes who turn sloppy diary entries into published books. One of my favorite China books in quite a while. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272214, Hardcover)

The wonderfully original story of a struggling Chinese basketball team and its quixotic, often comical attempt to right its fortunes by copying the American stars of the NBA—a season of cultural misunderstanding that transcends sports and reveals China’s ambivalent relationship with the West.
When the Shanxi Brave Dragons, one of China’s worst professional basketball teams, hired former NBA coach Bob Weiss, the team’s owner, Boss Wang, promised that Weiss would be allowed to Americanize his players by teaching them “advanced basketball culture.” That promise would be broken from the moment Weiss landed in China. Desperate for his team to play like Americans, Wang—a peasant turned steel tycoon—nevertheless refused to allow his players the freedom and individual expression necessary to truly change their games.
Former New York Times Beijing bureau chief Jim Yardley tells the story of the resulting culture clash with sensitivity and a keen comic sensibility. Readers meet the Brave Dragons, a cast of colorful, sometimes heartbreaking oddballs from around the world: the ambitious Chinese assistant coach, Liu Tie, who believes that Chinese players are genetically inferior and can improve only through the repetitious drilling once advocated by ancient kung fu masters; the moody and selfish American import, Bonzi Wells, a former NBA star so unnerved by China that initially he locks himself in his apartment; the Taiwanese point guard, Little Sun, who is demonized by his mainland Chinese coaches; and the other Chinese players, whose lives sometimes seem little different from those of factory workers.
As readers follow the team on a fascinating road trip through modern China—from glamorous Shanghai and bureaucratic Beijing to the booming port city Tianjin and the polluted coal capital of Taiyuan—we see Weiss learn firsthand what so many other foreigners in China have discovered: China changes only when and how it wants to change.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:49 -0400)

A former New York Times Beijing bureau chief presents the story of an underdog Chinese basketball team and its American coach's thwarted effort to help them make the playoffs by teaching them the strategies of American NBA stars, in an account that argues that the team's failures reflect Chinese culture and the nation's resistance to change.… (more)

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