Chinese basketball icon Yi Jianlian retires
Chinese basketball icon Yi Jianlian has announced his retirement from a 21-year professional career.
"How time flies. In the blink of an eye, basketball has accompanied with me for 21 years. After prudent consideration, I have decided to end my professional basketball career today," the 35-year-old Yi posted on China's social platform Weibo late on Tuesday. He went on to express his gratitude to his family members, coaches, teammates, and rivals.
"A special thanks go to China's men's basketball team, which holds a special place in my heart. Every time I don the national team jersey and represent my country in competition, I feel the pride emanating from my homeland," Yi wrote.
Yi expressed his thanks to the Guangdong team for its contributions to his development and unwavering support, saying the team has allowed him to obtain numerous honors for his hometown and provided a larger stage for him.
"Saying goodbye is not an end, but a new start," he wrote. "I will cherish it and continue to move forward and embrace a new chapter."
"Goodbye, my most beloved basketball. Thank you for giving me this 21-year fantastic journey featuring passion, joy, pity and tears, reliable companions and respected opponents. It's a precious and unforgettable experience in my lifetime. It's not about winning or losing, but all about love," Yi wrote.
"Goodbye, my most adorable fans. From a rookie to a leading figure in the team, whether I'm at the peak or in low ebbs, you always stay with me and offer tremendous energy and motivation to accompany with me through every glorious moment or dark time. You've taught me how to embrace applause with smiles and face doubts with easiness. What you have given me is far beyond my devotion," he continued.
"The last part of my thanks goes to that No. 9 rookie, for his persistence over these 21 years," Yi concluded.
In 2002, Yi began his professional journey with Guangdong's first team at the young age of 15. He clinched seven Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) titles with the Guangdong Southern Tigers and represented China in four Olympic Games.
Throughout 625 CBA games, Yi amassed 12,781 points and 6,159 rebounds, becoming the league's premier all-time rebounder. He also distinguished himself as the first domestic player to achieve the 10,000-point milestone in regular season play.
Yi was honored with the title of CBA regular season MVP five times and was named CBA Finals MVP on three occasions.
He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft. Besides the Bucks, Yi's NBA tenure included the New Jersey Nets, the Washington Wizards, and the Dallas Mavericks.