Net fury at bas­ket­baller over bad fash­ion choice

Global Times US Edition - - CHINA - By Wang Qi

Some Chi­nese bas­ket­ball fans are call­ing for na­tional team guard Zhao Rui to be banned from the team for life af­ter a photo of him wear­ing a jacket fea­tur­ing a US na­tional flag was posted on so­cial me­dia and went vi­ral on Mon­day.

The photo shows Zhao wear­ing a jacket in a ho­tel in Guangzhou, South China’s Guang­dong Province, while he was pre­par­ing to re­turn to Bei­jing.

The photo was posted on China’s Twit­ter-like Sina Weibo so­cial me­dia plat­form with the sub­ject “Zhao Rui wears a team USA jacket.”

It quickly be­came one of the most searched phrases with more than 110 mil­lion views.

Other pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ing on­line show Zhao’s team­mate, Zhai Xiaochuan, wear­ing a jacket with the Chi­nese na­tional flag.

Bas­ket­ball fans slammed Zhao for his al­leged “trai­tor­ous” be­hav­ior.

The photo ap­peared as Chi­nese fans fumed over the na­tional team be­ing knocked out of the FIBA World Cup, which was hosted by China.

Many be­lieve that the de­feat in the tour­na­ment dims China’s bas­ket­ball hopes at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“He should be kicked off the na­tional team for­ever and se­ri­ously pun­ished,” posted one typ­i­cal user. “He should have known that he is a pub­lic fig­ure rep­re­sent­ing China at an event with many cam­eras point­ing at him.”

In re­sponse, Zhao posted “I’ve to try to be ma­ture in the face of my un­in­ten­tional be­hav­ior,” which was later deleted with­out ex­pla­na­tion on Mon­day.

Be­fore the pic­ture went vi­ral, he re­leased an­other post on Mon­day in which he said he was look­ing for­ward to “fight­ing for the na­tional flag on my ch­est,” but didn’t in­di­cate which flag.

“So which na­tional flag does he want to fight for? The US?” posted an­other in­ter­net user, who re­ceived more than 10,000 likes.

The two posts in­fu­ri­ated fans and then Chi­nese ex­perts joined in.

Zhao’s be­hav­ior “dam­aged the pub­lic im­age of China’s na­tional team and his sub­se­quent re­sponse on Weibo also re­flects his lack of a rig­or­ous pub­lic consciousn­ess,” An Yukang, a Bei­jing­based cul­tural critic, told the Global Times on Tues­day.

While there were many sports dis­putes over com­mer­cial spon­sor­ship and por­trait rights, Zhao’s mis­take was “an er­ror of prin­ci­ple,” An said.

“It is an es­sen­tial qual­ity for play­ers to deal with those mat­ters well,” he said.

Ath­letes should al­ways re­mem­ber that sports is a com­pli­cated field of pub­lic voices, An noted.

Born in 1996, Zhao is a promis­ing guard who plays for the Guang­dong South­ern Tigers in China Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion. Zhao av­er­aged 6 points, 1.4 re­bounds and 1.8 as­sists per game dur­ing the world cup tour­na­ment.

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