By Emanuel Jalonschi
One of the most unique things about sports and really all things that require a tremendous amount of talent and dedication (such as music or the arts in general) is that those participating are judged on nothing else besides the skills that they can bring to the playing field. As such, sports can serve as a watershed in social evolutions. One example is Jackie Robinson and baseball or Jesse Owens in the ’36 Olympics.
It looks like the next turning point in social growth may be reflected in the NBA. While the NBA surely has no sort of sanctity in the matter of being progressive (one word: sweatshops), it has been an area of racial evolution at times. It was probably the first American national sport that was dominated by anybody but whites.
This time it is a player from China that takes a historic step. Wang Zhizhi, a 7’1" forward, joined the Mavericks with a two-year contract. This past Wednesday, April 4, Wang played his first minutes in the NBA and became the first Chinese player to ever play in the NBA.
He is not the first foreign player to be signed by the Mavericks, either. Steve Nash, their starting point guard, is Canadian. Their superstar center, Dirk Nowitzki is German. Their bench features Eduardo Najera from Mexico and Obinna Ekezie from Nigeria. Earlier on this season Australian Chris Antsey and Bruno Sundov from Croatia also joined them.