China basketball club sacks NBA import

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 02 2009 04:06 PM | Updated as of Feb 03 2009 12:06 AM

BEIJING - Chinese basketball team Shanxi Zhongyu has sacked superstar import Bonzi Wells after the former NBA bad boy failed to return from a holiday in his native United States, his club said Monday.

Wells, 32, dubbed by the local media the best player to have ever graced the Chinese Basketball Association after joining Zhongyu in December, had his contract terminated late last week, an employee at the club told AFP.

"He should have come back to the club on January 30, but he did not," said the man, who declined to be named.

According to a statement posted on Zhongyu's website over the weekend, Wells -- who was dogged by troublesome on-court behaviour and run-ins with coaches during his 10-year NBA career -- went home for a holiday last month.

He was meant to come back on January 27, but asked for a two-day extension to "attend to some personal matters," the statement said.

On January 29, he asked for another extension, which the club agreed to as long as he came back in time for a weekend match.

Wells, however, still failed to return, prompting the cancellation of his one-year contract.

"After friendly talks between the club and Wells and his agents, we unanimously agreed to terminate the contract," the statement said.

Wells admitted in earlier comments to finding it difficult in China, despite averaging 34 points in his 14 games with Zhongyu.

"It was a big cultural shock to me for the first few weeks," he said.

"Since I have been here it has been all business and I haven't had any fun yet, so I am looking for some fun."

Wells had helped lift Zhongyu, who finished last in season 2007-2008, into the top half of the CBA league.

But, in an ominous sign, they got thumped 89-110 by 10th-placed Changchun on Sunday without Wells.

Apart from playing for the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States, Wells is famous in China because he played alongside the nation's iconic centre Yao Ming with the Houston Rockets.