SBJ/May 27 - June 2, 2002/Labor Agents

Yao selects relative, scholar as NBA agents

Yao Ming, the expected No. 1 pick in this month's NBA draft, has hired a distant relative and a college business professor to represent him in marketing and contract negotiations.

Yao hired Eric Zhang, an MBA student at the University of Chicago, and John Huizinga, a University of Chicago economics professor whose research activities have included studies of macroeconomics and finance domestically and internationally, to represent him. Huizinga did not return a telephone inquiry.

"We will do everything that an agent does, including contracts and including marketing and all of that," Zhang said. "Yao Ming is in a unique situation, and therefore the services he requires are very unique."

Zhang would not comment on whether Yao had completed a deal with China and his team, the Shanghai Sharks, to come to the United States, or whether he would have to give 50 percent of his earnings to the Chinese government. Zhang described himself as "a distant relative" to Yao.

Meanwhile, a source said that Huizenga has applied to the National Basketball Players Association for certification to negotiate an NBA contract. Huizenga applied in mid-May, and the certification process takes a maximum of 90 days. Zhang did not apply, the source said.

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