Sportsman's Daily


Bucks Sign Yi; Milwaukee’s Fetid “Beijing-Like” Air Quality Seals Deal

Yi Jianlian

Yi Jianlian waves to Bucks officials as they fly back to Milwaukee from Hong Kong airport. Soon after the photo was taken, the patch of clear blue sky was overtaken by sickly gusts of brownish gases, which gave way to an asphyxiating downpour of sulphuric acid, berllyium flakes and liquid bleach.

MILWAUKEE, WI (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) – Yi Jianlian is going home. Sort of.

With only some 27,500 people of Asian descent living in a city better known for breweries and bratwurst, few expected Yi to sign with the Bucks when they selected him with the sixth pick in the 2007 NBA draft. But when Bucks owner Herb Kohl traveled to Hong Kong to meet with Yi, he was determined to make the Chinese 6-foot-11 power forward feel right at home.

“When we landed in Hong Kong and the stench hit us like a moving wall of human waste, I turned to my people and said, I’ve got a good feeling about this,” said Kohl.

Since the draft, the Bucks organization sought ways in which to reach out and connect with Yi, given the vast cultural divide. With little to offer, one Bucks official had what he called a “eureka” moment when reading an article describing the pollution wrapping industrial Chinese cities in toxic grey shrouds.

“If you’re not from Milwaukee where you get used to the air following you around like a foul-smelling homeless man -- or woman, as the case may’s a futuristic nightmare,” said Phil Mussberger, a Bucks VP. “Industrial cities where people rarely see the sun. A coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life. I’m reading this and for a minute I’m transported to Millionaire's Row right on Lake Michigan, where you can sit high atop the city and take in the sights. It’s just magnificent. For about thirty seconds, when suddenly you feel you’ve just been hit by a plutonium-grade shit bomb.”

Bucks officials who joined Kohl came prepared with photos, videos and charts documenting in vivid – at times, horrific – detail Milwaukee’s fetid air quality. The package featured a recent report published by the American Lung Association that gave Milwaukee’s air quality an F in two pollution categories - high ozone days and particle pollution.

"We had a very successful trip here," Kohl said from Hong Kong. "We came with the hope, but not the certainty that we would, in fact, be able to sign a contract with Yi. Yi's family was impressed with our cultural outreach and the lengths we went to make Yi feel at home. I’d like to say we all came out smelling like a rose, but that would be a lie.”

At the press conference formally announcing that he signed a standard rookie contract with the Bucks, Yi was visibly excited.

“I look forward to playing in the great city of Milwaukee and meeting my new teammates,” said Yi through a translator. He then took a deep breath and theatrically exhaled. “Besides, I love the smell of sulfur dioxide in the morning.”

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