Steve Francis has only been in China since December 14, but the former NBA semi-superstar made the most of his short career with the Beijing Shougang Ducks.
In his first game, the former teammate of Yao Ming famously took to the court while wearing an icepack to dribble out the last 17 seconds of a game because his coach was being sworn at to put the $800,000 dollar (+benefits) man into the game.
Then, a few games later, the 33-year-old Francis took his shirt off and decided to give an erect middle finger to the entire stadium to show his displeasure at a call that went against teammate and fellow/former NBAer Randolph Morris.
Now, just one day after Christmas, Francis and the Ducks have apparently decided to mutually part ways according to NiuBBall.
Though Sina is reporting that the team is cutting Francis, a source speaking to NiuBBall.com indicated that the break-up was mutual and that both sides were equally ready to move on. Francis, who was brought in on a large contract after Beijing head coach, Min Lulei, flew out to the U.S. to watch him work out in November, became quickly frustrated with Min over his lack of minutes and felt as if the team was merely using him to sell tickets and merchandise. Francis had not played more than five minutes in a single game, and had received his second straight DNP-CD tonight against Jiangsu after not getting any action on Friday against Bayi.
"He didn't fly all the way out to China to just sit on the bench," the source said.
"Come to think about it, source, he didn't even sit on the bench the whole time, did he?!?" replies me as Jim Belushi in The Defenders.
"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.
Is this the end of Francis's basketball career? Would he try the D-League? Will he play somewhere else in Europe? Will he ever be referred to as Stevie Franchise again? Find out next week, maybe.
On a brighter note, maybe this will give Rashad McCants a chance to finally play in China instead of sitting at home while watching his career falter further.