Yi Jianlian is finally calling it a career.
On his Sina Weibo account, the Chinese basketball star announced that he intends to retire from his professional career.
“Time flies, in the blink of an eye, basketball has been with me for 21 years. After careful consideration, today, I decided to officially bid farewell to my basketball career,” Yi wrote in a heartfelt social media post.
In 2002, Yi started playing professional basketball at the age of 18.
As the No. 6 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, Yi played in the NBA for five seasons in four different teams and averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 boards in 272 total games.
Yi obtained significant individual and collective success in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) by powering the Guangdong Southern Tigers to six championships while being named the Finals MVP of their three title triumphs.
In 14 years of play in his home country’s CBA tournament, the big man averaged 21 points, 9.9 boards, and 1.2 assists while shooting 55.5 percent from the field for 499 games.
“Along the way, I sincerely thank my most beloved family, my most beloved leader Bole, every coach, teammate, opponent, sponsor, partner and brokerage team. I would like to especially thank the Chinese men’s basketball team, which is a sacred name to me. Whenever I wear the jersey of the national team and play for my country, I can feel the pride that a strong motherland brings to me. I am also very grateful to the Guangdong Men’s Basketball Team for their years of training and support, which gave me the opportunity to represent my hometown to win so many honors, and provided me with the opportunity to go to a bigger stage,” he added.
Yi was also a staple in China’s international basketball program.
The 38-year-old played for Team Dragon in four total Olympic tourneys. He charged the Chinese squad in Asian hoops supremacy by helping his nation to clinch three gold medal finishes in FIBA Asia Cup wherein he was named the tournament MVP in 2011 and 2015.
“Farewell is not an end, but a new beginning. I will miss it very much, and I will continue to move forward to welcome a new chapter,” he said.
“Goodbye, my favorite basketball: Thank you for giving me this wonderful journey of 21 years, with blood, joy, regret, tears, reliable companions, and respectable opponents. This is an unforgettable and precious experience.”
Yi’s Chinese national team is currently seeking its first win at this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup festivities in the Philippines. Team Dragon will play Puerto Rico for their final Group Phase match this Wednesday, Aug. 30.