High School Sophomore Chris Tang, Of Chinese Nationality, Is China’s Hope To Become Its Jeremy Lin
Via Asian Athletes Blog. Youku video for those in China – plus a strange Scouts Focus interview in which Tang answers in Mandarin — after the jump.
The above video is of 6-foot-2 (possibly 6-3) guard Chris Tang of Hampton Roads Academy, who was just featured tonight on Beijing Television’s show “BTV Talking Sports” (体育议起来) as part of a 20-minute segment on Jeremy Lin. The show’s analyst initially seemed taken aback when the anchor introduced a clip of Tang with the phrase, “I don’t know if you’re familiar with this…,” but the analyst recovered nicely and spouted some hackneyed answer I didn’t bother remembering.
Tang, who was born in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, came to the US as an eighth-grader and now lives with a foster family in Newport News, Virginia. Because he is of Chinese ethnicity, he has drawn inevitable comparisons with Lin, though this Yahoo story by Cameron Smith would have you believe that Tang has more athletic upside. We should also point out this other very important difference between the two: Tang is Chinese by nationality, which means if you had to wager on who will play in the Olympics first, Tang may actually be the safer bet.
Tang’s given Chinese name, Tang Zihao (唐子豪), shares a character with Lin’s (Lin Shuhao, 林书豪), so it’s likely he and Lin will be linked for some time to come. But the comparisons really don’t make sense. According to an article in Tang’s hometown news site (via Yao Ming Mania), Tang was born into a sports family (his father played basketball) and came of age within China’s sports system. Through basketball, he got the chance to move to the US. In May 2009, he participated in an adidas all-star camp in Beijing (the same one I covered for ESPN The Magazine’s website), then joined Jiangsu’s professional junior’s team for a stint.
If he succeeds in the US, it’ll be because China’s sports system enabled him to pursue that success — that’s how it’ll be spun, surely. Of course, it’s way too early to say if he’ll make it to the NBA, and of course he’ll have to get through college first. But he’s on a fast track, that’s for sure, and barring some unforeseen setback, I suspect he’ll have a long, fruitful career with the Chinese national team no matter what happens.
In the interview below, a Scouts Focus interviewer asks Tang to tell everyone “about how it is your goal to go back and play for the Chinese national team.” I should note that everything about the interview feels a bit off — scripted, you could say, and the final product has obviously been edited (who knows what Scouts Focus’s plan is with the guy). Regardless, I’ve transcribed the exchange for non-Chinese readers. Be forewarned though, it’s not very enlightening, since Tang comes across as… well, a sophomore in high school, because he is.
Question: Tell us what you like about America, what you don’t like about the United States.
Tang: American basketball is very good. I don’t like eating hamburgers, fries. I don’t think American food is as good as at home.
Question: How’d you hear about… why did you decide to come to America?
Tang: Uh, came to America to play basketball.
Question: What’s your near-term goals and your long-term goals in basketball?
Tang: Right now I want to play college basketball first, then see if there’s a chance to play in the NBA.
Question: What do you think of this whole Jeremy Lin development, the Jeremy Linsanity going on now?
Tang: I think what he’s doing is a real miracle, to average about 25 points over six games.
Question: Tell us what player you look up to.
Question: How old were you when you did your first dunk? Say “I was 11 years old when I had my first dunk.”
Tang: In 6th grade I had my first dunk.
Question: About how it is your goal to go back and play for the Chinese national team.
Tang: I hope one day I can help the Chinese national team, that I can play for the Chinese national…
Question: Is it a challenge… tell us about how it’s been a challenge kind of adapting to American culture and learning English.
Tang: When I first came my English wasn’t very good. Now I’ve been here two, three years, I feel conversing is basically not a problem.
Question: And tell them, say “The colleges looking at me are in America free to go play basketball,” tell in Chinese what colleges are looking at you to go play basketball. Say, “The schools that are looking at me to go play basketball for them are…”
Tang: The schools with interest in me to play basketball are Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech.