Saturday, May 31, 2008

别了,钱澄海教练 Goodbye, Coach Qian - A Sonata to a Good Man

别了,钱澄海教练 Goodbye, Coach Qian - A Sonata to a Good Man


如果你看过“窃听风暴”,你就知道即使在极端的专制暴虐之下人的良知也不会全部泯灭。 我在中国的幸存与成功也有这些良知尚存的人们的保护的因素。 钱澄海教练就是那些良知尚存的人们之一。 --- 陈凯

If you have seen the movie "The Lives of Others", you will know that even under extreme tyranny and repression, human conscience will survive in one way or another. It will spark somehow in a most unexpected place and in a most unexpected time. My story of survival and success in China had certainly had such an element. Coach Qian was one of those with conscience who in his way protected me from total destruction by the evil regime. --- Kai Chen


Dear Visitors:

I only learned that my former National Basketball Team Head Coach Qian Chenghai passed away on April 24, 2008, when a friend called me from China.

I had known Coach Qian for a long time. I stayed in the National Team both in 1971 when Coach Qian was an assistant coach and in 1978 when Coach Qian was the head coach of the National Basketball Team.

I had known that Coach Qian was battling bone cancer for some years, though I had not seen him for many years. Before almost every time he came to the States, he would come and stay in my house. He was the Head Coach for China in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and my wife Susan was the interpreter for the Chinese National Basketball Team.

I write this piece as a eulogy to Coach Qian, not because he was my coach, but because he was a good man with conscience.

In 1971 when I was put into solitary confinement for my crime of escaping to Guangzhou from the National Team without the Party Organization's permission, I was in total isolation, writing my confession under supervision and surveillance. No one wanted to talk to me or had anything to do with me as if I had some deadly contagious disease. No one showed any sympathy toward me, a 17 years old kid whose only crime was having Taiwan relatives, and because of that I was expelled from the National Team Program. But one day I had a very unexpected visit from Coach Qian. He came to me and consoled me with soothing words: "I come to tell you that you will be OK. They will not destroy you entirely. Some people have similar cases. Don't worry too much."

Just a few words to inform and to sooth is enough for me to remember him forever. He did not have to come to do that. But he did it out of kindness and conscience. Later on I learned that Coach Qian also had relatives in Taiwan. His sister's husband was even serving in the same KMT's air force with my uncle. Maybe that was the reason why he showed sympathy toward me. But nonetheless, I will always be grateful toward him for that single act of kindness out of conscience and good heart.

I had called him once, having learned that he had cancer. But he maintained a great positive outlook on life. That was probably the reason why he had survived for seven years having had many operations. He lost two legs and part of his lungs.

As I peruse through the official eulogy in China today for Coach Qian, my stomach turns. The state is still using him to rally the crowd for China-loving. The official press has listed many of Coach Qian's former titles, positions, party membership, and other achievements. But as for me, the most defining moment of Coach Qian's character came in that dark afternoon in 1971, in a most depressive era, under the most oppressive circumstances. Just a few kind words. Just a soothing gesture.

Goodbye, my coach. I will always remember you, not for some glamour or glory in the official books, but for that single shining moment - a spark in the total darkness. In that moment, I learned what goodness is.

Always yours. Kai Chen 陈凯

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