What a difference a year makes. Back-to-back losing seasons, a failed Meta World Peace experiment, and finishing with one of the CBA’s worst records in 2015 (8-40), the Sichuan Blue Whales were in need of a major overhaul. Passing on a handful of big NBA names, team President Zhou Shining knew they weren’t in need of a “game changer” . . . they needed a “franchise changer”.
Shifting his focus from the US to Puerto Rico, Shining set his sights on a familiar face, taking a play from two-time BSN Champion Nelson Colon’s playbook, by signing a proven winner and two-time MVP. Arguably the most dominant force the National Superior Basketball League (Puerto Rico) has ever seen, Sichuan didn’t just sign a champion, they found a leader who regularly sacrifices personal gain for team success.
The “franchise changer” they were looking for, journeyman Mike Harris arrived in the Wending District of Southwest, China poised and ready to bring the Whales the CBA Championship they’d been longing for. A 6’7 forward who just a year earlier transformed a Qingdao Eagle’s squad (CBA) from league worst (5-29) to league best (28-10) and a first ever trip to the post-season tournament, teammates and coaches alike couldn’t wait to get started.
Providing Shining much more than he bargained for, the decorated American hasn’t just turned things around for the club but is personally playing the best basketball of his career. Like a fine wine ever better with age, the 32-year-old has improved in virtually every statistical category there is.
Leading Sichuan back on top, and boasting one of the leagues best records (30-8), the second ranked Whales have taken an impressive 2-0 lead over Guangsha L. in the first round of the playoffs. Averaging nearly a triple double on the series putting up 33.5 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists per contest, Harris appears as determined as ever to capture his third overall league championship in the last 4 years.
Back in action Friday night, stay tuned for more as the legend continues.