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September 2019
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Yi Jianlian becomes first player in CBA history with 10,000 points and 5,000 rebounds

Guandong (China) - After all that Yi Jianlian has done in his professional career, there should not be much debate whether he should or should not be considered as one of the all-time greatest in Chinese basketball history. If there were any doubts though, Yi has added another item to the list towards strengthening his case as one of China’s G.O.A.T players.

On March 3, 2019, Yi Jianlian of the Guangdong Southern Tigers grabbed an offensive board just before the end of the first half. The rebound itself wasn’t significant to the game in particular, as Guangdong charged to a 132-111 over the Jilin Northeastern Tigers, but it was counted as Yi’s 5,000th rebound in his CBA career. The 2.12M (6’11”) center becomes the first player ever to reach the 5K career rebounds plateau, adding on to what is already an amazing season and an amazing career. Yi is also now the only player in CBA history to compile at least 10,000 points and 5,000 rebounds.

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The 31-year-old is taking a slight step back, currently averaging less than 33 minutes per game for the first time since 2012, but continues to be a disruptive force for the Southern Tigers. His averages of 22.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks per contest this season are a bit lower than his usually automatic double-double stat line, but he’s been doing it a more efficient rate. In this 2018-2019 season, Yi has been making field goals at a clip of 58.3 percent which will be the highest ever for him since he returned from playing in the NBA back in 2012. More importantly, his team has pretty much commanded the top spot in the CBA standings for the entire season (currently at 39-4) and are among the strongest contenders for the CBA title.

Only a few weeks ago, Yi had already broken the all-time CBA rebounding record on February 15 against the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. His 10 rebounds in that game brought his total to 4,984 to surpass the former record of 4,978 held by another Chinese basketball legend, Mengke Bateer.


Earlier this season on October 30, 2018, Yi broke through with 19 points in a game against Shandong Golden Stars to crack through the 10,000 barrier. The Chinese national team star became the second player in CBA history to reach the 10k mark and still remains the youngest as well, even after Liu Wei and Lester Hudson completed the feat later on in the season.

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Next on the list for the 4-time regular season MVP is taking over the title as the CBA’s all-time leading scorer which is held by Zhu Fangyu, a former teammate of Yi and current General Manager of the Guangdong Southern Tigers. Fangyu’s all-time record is at 11,287 points which Yi is 584 points away from breaking as of March 5, 2019.

“I didn't focus on the stats because the figure will gradually rise in the following games. But we won this game which made this milestone more significant to me,” Yi said after reaching the 10k points milestone.

All of these records don’t matter as much to Yi as achieving his ultimate goal for this season which is to lead Guangdong back to a title. The Southern Tigers were a dominant force with 7 CBA titles from 2003 to 2011 but has only won 1 championship since that run. It’s always good for a player to complete historic personal feats, but in the end, it’s winning that matters most.