Champion coach Li resigns due to 'health' issues

Updated: 2013-01-08 02:35

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

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Citing health reasons, Li Chunjiang stepped down as Guangdong's head coach, bidding farewell to an era which saw him lead the squad to seven league championships since 2001.

The team's management announced Li's departure on Sunday.

"Li officially submitted his resignation after the game against the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, saying his deteriorating health condition would not allow him to continue working as the head coach. The club approved his request after discussing it with him," Guangdong's General Manager Liu Hongjiang said on Monday.

Retired forward Du Feng, who has served as an assistant coach with Guangdong and the national squad over the past two years, will be promoted to the head post.

Former national team coach Jonas Kazlauskas of Lithuania, who steered China to a record eighth-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will join the club as an assistant, but is expected to take over the reins after becoming familiar with the team.

"Du will instruct the club for several games and then we will hand the baton to Jonas as he has much more experience than Du, who remains immature as a coach and needs more experience," Liu said.

However, according to Liu, Kazlauskas is not allowed to be the head coach of a pro club due to FIBA regulations as he is the current head coach of Lithuanian national squad.

Li's sudden departure from the team he helped mold into a powerhouse has come as a huge surprise and triggered suspicions about the official "health" reason.

Factors including his hot temper, tense relations with players and the unexpected loss in last season's CBAFinals to Beijing have also been touted as reasons for departure, said