For wheat? Change the bomb? 23 years ago, Korean Yao Ming was almost exported to the United States by North Korea

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 For wheat? Change the bomb? 23 years ago, Korean Yao Ming was almost exported to the United States by North Korea


As far as other Asian teams are concerned, Lee Myung Hoon is by no means a strange name. As early as 1990, at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in Beijing, although he was not a flag bearer, he became the most noticeable member of the Korean delegation with his proud height. In the 1991 Asian championship, Li Mingxun scored 55 points on the head of the Philippine team. Of course, Li Mingxun wanted to go out of Asia. When 1997 came, things took a turn for the better. North Korea, which was tense with the United States at that time, wanted to extend an olive branch to ease relations like ping pong diplomacy, but they needed a chance.

What Cohen may not know is that he is not the only one interested in Lee Ming Hoon. Tony ronzone, who played in the Philippine League when he was a player, also heard his Philippine friends talk about this light giant. He never thought he would have any connection with Lee. But in early 1997, his world was changed. At the time, lonzoni, who was working in FIBA at the time, went to North Korea as part of a FIBA coach training course to help guide about 300 basketball coaches from all over North Korea who gathered in Pyongyang. In Pyongyang, ronzoni finally met the legendary giant Li Mingxun, who was well aware of the NBAs desire for such a tall man, also had the idea of bringing him into the NBA.

Fortunately, he was given an interview with Kim Jong Il. He offered to bring Lee Myung Hoon to the United States. Kim Jong Il, who was interested in it, readily agreed, in exchange for coach notes and video tapes brought by lonzoni, as well as trying to help North Korea produce some wheat - such conditions are not difficult to understand during the bitter March. Through romzonis matchmaking, the North Korean government has found Cohen, so far, Lees NBA dream has finally entered the right track.

The NBA teams preference for this mysterious giant from the corner of the basketball world is not without reason. Height cant be taught by the coach. The success of Boer and murresan makes many teams eager to try. Looking back on history, the first Asian player to be selected by the NBA, Takashi Okayama (10th in the 8th round in 1983) is also a 2.30-meter giant. After the news that Li Mingxun might enter the NBA was released, Nestor and Turner became the only sources of information due to the absence of Lees videotape. Nestor gave such comments:

His speed and shooting feel are amazing relative to his height. I dont think murresan is much better than him. Given the training and nutrition restrictions in North Korea, if I can train here for a period of time, I think he can challenge the NBA.

Hiroshi Okayama, Asias first NBA pick (2)

Getting such a signal, Lee naturally attracted interest from some NBA teams, including the jazz and 76 people who had enjoyed the benefits of such mysterious giants as mark Eaton and manut ball, as well as the knight who was first contacted by Cohen. The Cavaliers even planned to let Li Mingxun participate in the 1997 draft, but they met with an obstacle: the trade law of 1917 in the United States u3002 Under the rules, U.S. companies are prohibited from employing citizens of hostile countries. Naturally, it is impossible for Li Mingxun to enter the United States directly. He needs a compromise.

In May 1997, Li came to Ottawa via Beijing with a coach and two bodyguards. Through his contacts in Ottawa, Coyne recruited former Canadian national team coach Jack Donohue to train Lee. In Ottawa, Donoho was responsible for directing Lees off the basket skills, including hook and repetitive mckenny training, just as he did more than 30 years ago with the senior high school student named Lou arsindo (his more widely known name should be Karim Abdel Jabbar).

As Nestor said, North Koreas conditions made Lees physical test results very unsatisfactory: his body fat rate was 18%, his vertical take-off was only 30cm, and his strength was very poor (squat weight was only 45kg), but with the help of hockey coach Loren Goldenberg, after three months of diet adjustment and strength training, his body fat rate dropped to 15% and his weight dropped from 108 The kilogram rose to 120 kilograms, and the squat weight increased to 100 kilograms.

Everything seems to be moving in a good direction. Although the NBA is afraid of getting into trouble, NBA teams are not allowed to have direct contact with Lee. However, according to Donohoes memory, at least ten teams have seen Lees training, and one or two hope to sign him. However, the cloud of North Koreas nuclear crisis has been lingering, the US State Department has been reluctant to let go, and the NBA is not willing to assist in lobbying. Lee can only continue to repeat training in Ottawa.

Every day, Li Mingxun and his two bodyguards come to the court for training. This is a slightly funny combination. Li Mingxun, who is 2.35 meters in height, is followed by two small men only about 1.6 meters. They follow him closely, as if they are always on guard against his escape. When Li Mingxun was training, two bodyguards were clumsily dribbling and shooting, which was totally different from those who had practiced basketball. Donohoe seems to be aware of this, saying jokingly to an NBA Scout: watch out for those two people around Michael, they can kill you in a second.

As time went by, half a year later, despite the arrival of scouts, there was no progress in the NBA. The US State Department has been worried that Lee Myung Hoons salary would eventually flow to the North Korean government. Cohen also thought of many ways to help Li Mingxun, including setting up a company in Canada to circumvent the trade law with the enemy. However, it is obvious that the US Treasury Department has been paying close attention to them, so that Cohen has been deliberately delayed in making phone calls with the Treasury Department in order to obtain permission.

In order to make Lee Myung Hoon score fast and hit the ball, Coen even thought about allowing Lee to become a Canadian, but it was clear that the North Korean side would not agree. At the end of 1997, the parties to the North Korean nuclear issue held talks in Geneva, and Lee Myung Hoons issue even became a bargaining chip in the negotiations between the DPRK and the United States. In the end, the talks did not make any progress, Kim Jong Il also completely lost confidence in the basketball diplomacy of the stillborn, and recalled Lee Myung Hoon to North Korea. Cohen was also very helpless: North Korea wants to let Lee, who plays in the NBA, let the outside world eliminate their fear, and Lee is really a perfect candidate. He is just a friendly ordinary person like us.

In September 1998, CNN reporter Mike Chinoy interviewed Li Mingxun in Pyongyang. Li Mingxun still regretted his failure to make the NBA trip

I think if I can get into the NBA, it will be good for the relationship between the two countries, but unfortunately, my efforts may have had a negative effect.

Im not interested in politics or money. As an athlete, I just want to try.

A few years later, Robert Carlin, a former adviser to the US government on North Korea, admitted that the US government could have dealt better with Lee Myung Hoons problem: we were not smart enough at that time. It is obvious that this is a signal from North Korea that they want to eliminate hatred and antagonism between the two countries.

It seems to have realized this. During her historic visit to North Korea in October 2000, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave Kim a special gift, Michael Jordans signature basketball. The U.S. State Department also approved Li Mingxun to enter the NBA in the same year. Unfortunately, a car accident before the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998 made Lees condition worse than before. At this time, he had missed the best time to enter the NBA at the age of 33. A basketball diplomacy that could have happened was completely destroyed.

Coyne was not discouraged after his failure to attract Li Mingxun. In 1998, he learned that there was a gifted teenager in Shanghai, China, and eventually became the first agent of the teenager.

Source: Houchang village sports team Author: Tieshan responsible editor: Zhou Juntao_ NS4573