Basketball: Max Zhang shown in China-Brazil brawl photos, video

You may have seen the disturbing videos or photos of the bench-clearing brawl involving the Chinese and Brazilian basketball teams during a “friendly” game Tuesday night at Xuchang in China’s Henan province.

Sad to report that Cal junior center Max Zhang was on hand and apparently in the mix, at least to some degree.

Zhang, whose Chinese name is Zhang Zhaoxu, took the fall term off from Cal to play for the Chinese national team. He was on the roster for the FIBA World Championships last month, and was invited to remain with the team as it trains for next month’s Asian Games.

Now Chinese basketball officials are suspending preparations for the Asian Games while they sort out what happened Tuesday night.

The website Chinasmack.com posted a series of photos from the brawl, at least two of which focus on Zhang.

An important disclaimer: The caption under one photo reads “Zhang Zhaoxu punches opponent,” and it’s not clear in the picture whether that’s actually what was happening. A subsequent photo purports to show Zhang kicking a player, but I’m not certain it’s Zhang in the photo.

Another picture shows Zhang taking a right-hand blow from a Brazilian player.

The brawl began after Chinese coach Bob Donewald Jr. — a former NBA assistant — received two technical fouls for arguing a foul call. A Youtube video shows Donewald swearing and pounding his fist on the scorer’s table, then the video jumps to game action where a Chinese player goes after a Brazilian opponent and mayhem ensues.

Zhang, who was not in the game at the time the brawl began, can be seen in his warmup outfit at several points during the video.

Let’s be clear about this: We don’t know what happened here. The pictures and video show snippets of what occurred, and there is little context or even a clear time sequence. We don’t know if Max Zhang was guilty of anything more than being swept up in a crazy, out-of-control mob atmosphere.

Chinese officials will endeavor to untangle this mess, and Cal’s athletic department may have to do the same as it pertains to its player. Already it was unclear if Zhang was going to return to Cal for the second semester or remain in China, and the picture just got murkier.

However it shakes out, a sad and ugly day for basketball.

Jeff Faraudo

  • ondal

    more like a sad and ugly day for beanpoles who don’t know how to throw a proper punch. both sides were on board the wussy wagon.

    (brazilian jiu jitsu x kung fu) + FIBA = cobra kan’t + miyagi don’t

    thank you i’ll be here all week

  • rollonubears

    i would much rather hear that zhang was out there getting his teammates’ backs than cowering in the corner while they got pummeled. this may look ugly now, but i think it’ll toughen him up, and it has nothing to do with cal basketball, whatsoever, so we shouldn’t be concerned unless he ends up in a chinese prison, which is where he might have been if he didn’t agree to play for the national team, anyway.

  • rollonubears

    watching the video, the officials were awful, the china coach totally lost his cool, and the chinese players crossed the line. and it looks like max was indeed hiding behind the crowd and kicking and throwing cheap shots here and there, which is kind of embarrassing.

  • SteveNtexas

    He can’t even make the starting team but he gets the bad publicity. Is this a project with too much downside?

    I’m not a big fan of these “diamonds in the rough” it seems like an excuse for every non rated player. Maybe Zhang was rated – I don’t remember but tend to doubt it.

  • rollonubears

    he was just extremely tall

  • SteveNtexas

    So is Geri the Giraffe currently trimming trees at the Houston Zoo. She’s not that bright and unfortunately she would be academically ineligible at all but one of the Pac 10 schools (I hate to give USC ideas on how they could further embarrass our conference).

  • covinared

    Go Max! You made us proud. Hurry back for the Pac 10 season. Just don’t break your hand throwing any punches, and work on your foul shots.

  • David

    There are some very interesting articles on that chinasmack site…

  • milo

    Hahaha…haven’t you lads ever witnessed international sports before? If that was a soccer match in Brazil the stadium would have rushed the field.

    Any way, I heard what happened…nasty name calling by the Brazilians on a Chinese home court. Bad move.

  • manus

    Seems like he was grinning in that video, too….

    Winston Churchill one said, “I like a man who grins when he fights.”

    Viva Max!

  • uh oh.

    Murkier to return in the 2nd semester?
    This should have no bearing on Cal or the NCAA!
    But, hey, thanks for confirming that’s who I saw, JF.

  • uh oh.

    Okay, that clears it up.

    The U.S. coach on the Chinese squad was upset at a hard screen foul at the top of the key. He goes ape, and really riles things up, throwing F bombs and slamming the officials table. He is to blame some b/c he heightened everyone into believing it was an injurious foul. That type of protest occurs in the U.S. (Bob Knight, et al), but he has to handle himself differently on the International stage. As would have happened in the U.S., he should have received 2 T’s and been gone immediately!

    But then #8 on the Chinese was completely out of control when play resumed. He went after a player and simply ran him over, then got in his grill. Everyone merged and there was some action, but then #8 goes chasing someone, who appears to be defending himself, across the court and not only is delivering a blurry of arms at the Brazilian’s head, but also attempts an upward knee punch at his bent over head. OUCH!

    #8 on China was the main culprit in the event and I’d have some fairly harsh reward for him. Eventually, the Brazilians appear to be quitting the game and walking off, and instead of just leaving, they stupidly turn to the Chinese bench to applaud them (mocking) for their poor behavior. This instigates the players, especially #4 on China, to start it back up again. And this is the only time I saw Max clearly enough in the back of the action with his sweatsuit on.

    The still images show that Max got punched pretty good in the face. The image of him doing the 90 degree leg kick is mis-identified as him. That’s not him. But he did attempt, if not struck, a sissy-kick with 4 other teammates of a Brazilian on the floor, which was, admittedly, tasteless. That you can see in the video. Other than that, he stays to the back of the pack chasing, like the big sissy he is. Hard to say from the video when he got punched in the face.

    I would expect this to have no effect on Max with either the Chinese team or the Cal team. Whatever was gonna happen with his playing there or here is still going to happen the same way.

  • LR

    MZ should probably stick to bench warming and nevermind the brawling badass thing. The Dominican nuns I had in pre-school are more coordinated than him and could probably kick his ass 10 different ways.

    As for Cal untangling things, I think it’s a non-issue for several reasons, most prominently that MZ is unlikely to come back, and if he does he still won’t be a D1 caliber player and will continue to be a total non-factor. The bigs on this team (such as they are) are MSF, Kamp, Solomon and Bak. Zhang is a curiosity, not a player.

  • uh oh.

    I will respectfully and emphatically disagree with you on 2 points:

    1) I would NEVER want to mess with someone 7’3″. In terms of boxing, you and I would get whooped with the reach factor. He’d be hittin’ our heads while we could only attempt to chop him down at the stomach. In terms of wrestling… it’s just an ugly situation! I don’t want no piece of that.

    2) Max may not live up to the expectations we all have for someone of that height, but don’t tell me he hasn’t been helpful for Cal basketball on the court. I’m sure a many fans can point out numerous times he has helped us win games (Stanford game: Max Zhang had a career-high 13 points to go with four rebounds and three blocked shots). No doubt we are going to miss him first semester. I HOPE HE COMES BACK! WE NEED MAX!

  • tightwad phil

    National teams shouldn’t fight. It’s a disgrace to their nations and the sport. And after watching Max’s role in that brawl, I”m disappointed in him.

    (The Great Firewall of China probably blocks JO’s blog, so Zhang probably won’t read this, but:)

    Max: Either BE A MAN and break up the fight or BE A MAN and fight fair and square. Make a decision and do it wholeheartedly.

    Rollonubears nailed it. Max was waffling in the background like a little b*&%# and it looked like he sucker-kicked some dude. Shameful. Sorry, Covinared, nothing to be ‘proud’ of. He looked like an insecure freshman punk hanging out with the delinquent upper classmen bullying smaller kids on the schoolyard. Or even worse, with all the waffling and hesitating, he looked like Joe Ayoob dropping back to pass!

  • LR

    Uh Oh,

    1. There are plenty of skinny, gawky guys who routinely get their asses handed to them by smaller, stronger, more coordinated men. Max is a feeb. I honestly thought he had a neurological problem the first time I saw him play.

    2. I don’t give a crap about 13 points against a team with Landry Fields and 11 stiffs. A guy that tall should average at least 8 or 9 boards a game — at least more boards than points. He averaged 2 measly pulls a game because he was constantly out of position and much weaker than his counterparts. The man is luggage.