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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 02:56 GMT 03:56 UK
Wang makes historic NBA debut
The 7ft 1ins centre was given a standing ovation
The 7ft 1ins centre was given a standing ovation
Wang Zhizhi became the first Chinese player to appear in the American basketball league when he took the court for the Dallas Mavericks against the Atlanta Hawks.

The 7ft 1ins centre was given a standing ovation by the capacity 18,000 crowd for his entrance and exit in Dallas' 108-94 victory.

Wang made an impressive debut, scoring six points and pulling down three rebounds in his eight-minute spell on the Reunion Arena court.

He made two out of his five shots and both his free throw attempts.

Wang is known as the Walking Great Wall
Wang: Walking Great Wall
"I'm very happy," Wang said. "I will remember this game forever, my whole life.

"It means that I can play in the NBA. I can score on an NBA floor. It also means a Chinese player can play against the best basketball players in the world.

He added: "The game is very physical and very fast. I was just so-so. I would have liked to have played a little better."

Wang made his entrance seconds before the end of the second quarter.

Fans had to wait until the fourth quarter for his historic first NBA basket, when he nailed a jump shot from the top of the key.

His next basket, a running baseline jumper from the left side with five minutes remaining, put the Mavericks over 100 points and prompted another standing ovation.

Wang scored three baskets in his eight-minute spell
Welcome to Wang's World
Spectators were impressed not just at the score, but at the fact the 100-mark qualified everyone in the crowd for a free Mexican meal as part of a restaurant sponsor's promotion.

Wang's appearance came during a tense political time between China and the United States.

The Chinese government is holding a downed US Navy spy plane and its crew of 24 to the consternation of US officials.

But spectators showed only affection for the Chinese goliath.

A Chinese flag waved in the stands. Signs hailed his arrival, one saying, "Welcome to Wang's World."

Wang, 23, signed a two-year contract on Wednesday but is not expected to play much of a part in the rest of this season because the Mavericks are fighting for play-off position.

The length of his contract depends on whether he impresses in Dallas.

Wang, one of three Chinese centres known collectively as the "Walking Great Wall", described the move as "exciting".

The Mavericks have paid Wang's Baya Chinese army team $350,000 to secure his services.

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