Wang wants spot on Chinese national team

Updated: April 10, 2006, 7:59 AM ET
Associated Press

BEIJING -- Miami Heat center Wang Zhizhi returned to China on Monday and apologized for his earlier refusal to join the Chinese National Team.

 ZhiZhi Wang
Wang

The move by Wang could pave the way for him playing in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics for China.

The first mainland Chinese player in the NBA, Wang upset the basketball association by refusing to return for national team duties following his 2001-2002 rookie season.

Since then, his fame in China has been eclipsed by Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who has diligently showed up for national duties, including leading China to an eighth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

"I realized I had made a big mistake," Wang said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. "I want to say sorry to my fans and to the Bayi team, which trained me and gave me the chance to play in the NBA."

Wang played with the Bayi Rockets military team before joining the NBA.

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.

"I was too young to make the right decision," Wang said. "I hope I could make up my fault this time and win back my place in the national team."

"It's a crucial move for him to return in an answer to the motherland's call," the Chinese Basketball Association said in a statement reported by Xinhua.

Whether Wang is allowed back on the national squad will depend on his "mental and physical conditions" the statement said, without giving specifics.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press