NEW YORK (Olympics) - Yi Jianlian got a chance to see what all the fuss is about in the NBA these days when he travelled to New York with the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend to take on Jeremy Lin and the Knicks.
In the American media capital, Yi also discovered there’s a lot of interest in him since he will be the leading player in China's national team when it competes at the London Games.
Yi's play helped the Chinese reach the knockout stages of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
He also sparked the team in their gold-medal run at last year's FIBA Asia Championship by averaging 16.6 points and 10.8 rebounds.
"We are going to have a surprise for everybody," Yi said at Madison Square Garden.
There is no greater honor for Yi than to represent China, and it's especially sweet when he does so at the Olympics.
He played at the Athens Games in 2004 and was also with the team in Beijing four years later.
"For me, the Olympics is about being proud, being part of my China national team," the 24-year-old Yi said.
"To have China on your jersey and being on court is very exciting no matter what for me.
"It's a big chance. Four years of time. Not everyone can make it."
In previous Olympic Games, Yi has played alongside Yao Ming.
Injuries led to Yao's retirement last year.
Yao’s last run with China was the 2008 Olympics, when they reached the Quarter-Finals.
"It is a different kind of ball movement, running up and down more, because we have no real big guy inside," Yi said.
"We got to run, do some more stuff on defense.
"The team and myself need to score and rebound. I need to do more for our team to do better and win the game."