We’ve hit the first number in our series on Los Angeles Clippers players numbers that has only been sported by one player: Wang Zhizhi is the only player who has worn No. 16 to date for the Clips.
Wang was a trailblazer, the first player from China to play in the NBA, joining a couple years before the biggest Chinese NBA star, Yao Ming. Wang was part of a juggernaut, the Bayi Rockets, that won six straight Chinese Basketball Association titles.
In 1999, Wang was drafted in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks, but the player’s move to the NBA took Chinese authorities by surprise and he didn’t actually play for the Mavs until the end of the 2000-01 season.
In 2002, Wang signed with the Clippers after his Dallas deal expired, the player spending the summer in Los Angeles as perhaps some foreshadowing for his next destination, but at a cost: He was expected back to China as soon as the NBA season ended, and his summer in LA meant he was kicked out of the Chinese national team for the next four years.
To be perfectly honest, Wang’s backstory and pioneer status are far more compelling than his play on the court. He played 43 games across two seasons with the Clippers, and was firmly a reserve, playing about 10 minutes a game, averaging just under two rebounds and a little over four points a game. Those stats fit in with the rest of his NBA career, which concluded with two seasons with the Miami Heat after the Clippers waived him in 2003.
After his NBA sojourn, Wang returned to the Bayi Rockets, which is effectively his basketball home. The center played nearly another decade in the CBA, then became an assistant coach and then the head coach, a role he continues to occupy today.
Here’s a great Clippers highlight of Wang’s in which he dribbles from the three-point line all the way to the rim, before unleashing a thunderous dunk. Maybe this tantalizing glimpse is how we should remember the only No. 16 in Clippers history.
News for this Thursday:
- PatBev’s new best friend is CoD: Patrick Beverley may have lost in the semifinals of the NBA 2k tournament to eventual winner Devin Booker, but the Clippers man is rebounding with another game, saying in an interview this week with the LA Times he’s really getting into Call of Duty during the ongoing coronavirus shutdown.
- PG also a big CoD player: Speaking of Call of Duty, Paul George participated in a recent live stream for Call of Duty: Warzone, which mashed up NBA players and pro Call of Duty players.
- Ujiri still friends with Kawhi: Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said he still has a “great relationship with Kawhi” even though the star bounced for the Clippers this season, in a recent streamed interview.
- LA has most to lose in sports world: The Comeback argues Los Angeles has the most potential to lose if sports don’t return this year, with the Clippers obviously among the title contenders in the city.
- Charles to Mystics: In WNBA news, defending champ Washington Mystics picked up Tina Charles in a blockbuster trade. SB Nation breaks down the implications for all teams involved.