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Steve Francis' Very Brief Chinese Basketball Career Is Over

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Former Houston Rocket favorite Steve Francis' brief career as a Chinese basketballer is over, apparently in part because he was caught on TV giving the finger to a referee.

He had signed with the Chinese league this year but had been squabbling with coaches over playing time.

One report says the Beijing Ducks' import "received a warning by the league for his 'uncivilized behavior,' and the team was ordered to privately 'criticize and educate' the player."

There was also the matter of Stevie Franchise being out of shape and skipping practice on Christmas, the report says.

After Francis joined with the team in Beijing and began practicing, it became apparent to team management that Francis' body was too out of shape and his skills too eroded, and that it was unrealistic for them to heavily invest in a player that could not be counted on serious on-court contributions this season.

In addition to Francis' unacceptable physical condition, Beijing also grew weary of his attitude towards practicing. The final straw appears to have been drawn yesterday on Christmas when Francis, against the wishes of coaches, skipped a morning practice to spend the holiday with his family. The vast majority of Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, and since the Chinese government does not legally recognize the day as a holiday, workers and students are not given a day off.

Christmas? Hey, it's not like he was going to the Super Bowl or anything.

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