Pac-1o basketball fans received some difficult news today. Max Zhang will not return to the University of California to continue his basketball career, opting instead to stay with the Chinese national team. He was already going to miss this year to play with them, but now he will not return at all.
For those not in the know, Max is the Good Guys’ favorite 7′ 3″ Chinese center. Few things brought more joy than Max in a pregame layup line or squatting in front of the scorer’s bench to check in, unable to bring his head below the scorer’s line of vision. He could foul with abandon, and even dominated defensively for the occasional minute.
Max was the kind of player you always like to see on the opponent’s sideline. No real threat to have an impact on the game, he brought a level of goofiness that only a 7′ 3″ Chinese Golden Bear can. And I mean that in the best way possible. Sometimes I’d wonder about the interpersonal relationships of the Bears. What did Jerome Randle think of Max? Was he the goofy little brother? Does he speak English? What would the world look like if he ever became a star?
A few weeks ago, we saw a new side of Max when he took part in a fairly horrific brawl which led to the Chinese team being suspended from international play. Maybe we should have known that we were coming to the end of Max’s era, but today’s news is still hard. Max, tonight we bow to the west in your honor and think of what could have been. If you ever decide to come back, how about transferring to Oregon State? You and Joe Burton patrolling the paint might be one of the best things I can imagine. Goodbye, Max Zhang.