An easy decision to make

Updated: 2013-03-02 00:47

By Dusty Lane (China Daily)

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Some decisions are difficult.

Last week, for instance, I spent an endless evening awaiting death on a bathroom floor in Thailand.

It was food poisoning, of course, the horrifying strain reserved for tourists stupid enough to eat eggs that have been sitting out all morning in the hotel buffet.

I'll spare you the details, but trust me when I say it was a bleak night.

When dawn broke, I was faced with a choice: Catch the Cambodia-bound bus I'd already paid for and risk 13 hours of staining myself and that bus with my sickness. Or, lose out on my considerable travel costs, and spend the day in bed recuperating while missing out on a trip I'd been planning for months.

That, I think, qualifies as a difficult decision.

Some decisions, on the other hand, are easy. Here's one.

The Chinese national basketball team is in desperate need of a good coach. More to the point, the side is in tatters, and requires a coach with a set of skills and experience so unique as to be theoretically nonexistent.

As it happens, he exists, and he's been minding his own business in Dongguan for the past four years.

So enough with the interminable search, Powers That Be — just hire Brian Goorjian and let him get on with the hard work of rebuilding the team.

If you're not familiar with Goorjian, he's coach of the CBA's Dongguan Leopards. Basketball-crazed owner Liang Zhibin granted him the rare opportunity to build the Leopards slowly, from the ground up, into what all involved hope will be a dynasty. Such patience is rarely granted in the CBA, but neither pedigrees nor personalities such as those possessed by Goorjian come to Chinese basketball very often.

The US native spent 20 years coaching in Australia, including seven as coach of the national team. He won six domestic league championships and led the Aussies to a ninth-place finish at the Athens Games and seventh in Beijing.

If you don't mind a bit of hyperbole, he's the Phil Jackson of the Asia-Pacific.

Goorjian isn't the kind of guy who's going to lobby for the job. He doesn't need to — the NBA has come knocking more than once — and he's been around long enough to know it's a hard gig.

But that's kind of what he likes about it.

"It's a great job," Goorjian told me last week. "I mean, I think it's a real tough time for Team China right now. It needs a total rebuild ... it's a high, high, high profile job, and you're starting from the ground floor.

"I understand this side of the globe, and I've been in the league for four years, so if they came knocking at my door, I'd be in."

China is coming off an awful London Games. It went 0-5, and an ugly 0-5 at that. Which means whomever is hired will be tasked with scouring the country for a new crop of players, vetting them and whipping them into Olympic shape in 3 ½ years. And there are exactly zero foreign coaches — who aren't named Brian Goorjian — with successful international experience and comprehensive knowledge of the Chinese system, style, players and idiosyncrasies.

Dusty Lane is a sports copy editor and man-about-town who can be reached at