There was a point in time when Steve Francis ranked as one of the more exciting guards in the NBA. That point has long since passed. Truthfully, I hadn’t thought about the former University of Maryland superstar in quite some time until coming across this story in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Apparently, Steve arrived in Beijing, China, a country which had loved him since his days alongside Yao Ming in Houston, on December 14 to join the Beijing Shougang Ducks.
Not even two weeks later, 13 days to be exact, Steve had wore out his welcome and once again finds himself as once dominant NBA All-Stars – see Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson before him – whose international career tanked faster than their plane ride to said country. In a total of four games, his stat line reads: 14 total minutes, 0.5 points per game and 0.7 rebounds per game.
When Francis first arrived, Min indicated that the player would not be seeing major minutes during games before his conditioning improved to an acceptable level after almost three years away from the game. Though Min came away impressed enough to sign him to a contract after he flew out to the States to see Francis practice, team management had major concerns about his ability to handle a full season of games even after the workout and up until he came to China. After Francis joined with the team in Beijing and began practicing, it became apparent to team management that Francis’ body was too out of shape and his skills too eroded, and that it was unrealistic for them to heavily invest in a player that could not be counted on serious on-court contributions this season.
In addition to Francis’ unacceptable physical condition, Beijing also grew weary of his attitude towards practicing. The final straw appears to have been drawn yesterday on Christmas when Francis, against the wishes of coaches, skipped a morning practice to spend the holiday with his family. The vast majority of Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, and since the Chinese government does not legally recognize the day as a holiday, workers and students are not given a day off.
“Yesterday, the whole team practiced, but only [Francis] went to go spend Christmas with his family,” Coach Min said to reporters after tonight’s 104-89 win against Jiangsu, visibly angry. “This afternoon I was still speaking with him, I wanted to find him a conditioning coach to work him out for a bit. But he said to me that he needs to play in games, not practice…”
After not playing on Friday in Beijing’s win against Bayi, Francis received his second straight DNP-CD tonight. Apparently at his wits end over not playing, Francis left the bench and halftime and did not return for the second half.
To hear the entire story, head over to NiuBBall.com to read Sina Sports Reports That Steve Francis And Beijing Split Ways.