WUSA's Great Haul from China
When 7'1" Wang Zhizhi joined the Dallas Mavericks in April and earned international attention for becoming the first Chinese player to enter the NBA, Tony DiCicco, chief operations officer of the WUSA, got an even greater sense of accomplishment. "People were making a big deal out of one Chinese player coming over," says DiCicco, "and we had six of them."
Unlike Wang, many have had an immediate impact. Through Sunday goalkeeper Gao Hong had four shutouts in 10 games for New York; San Diego's Fan Yunjie had established herself as possibly the best defender in the league; and Philadelphia midfielder Liu Ailing had been named WUSA player of the week twice in a row.
DiCicco is gratified by their success on and off the field. "In China they made practically no personal decisions because the team handled almost everything," he says. "Now they have to decide everything for themselves."
Among the most independent is Sun Wen, whom FIFA named co-player of the century, with Michelle Akers. At week's end Sun had started only two games for Atlanta because of knee and ankle injuries, but she has earned her driver's license. Says DiCicco with a laugh, "Some players have told me that when she's driving, they don't want to be on the road."