Tributes have flooded in for Lester Hudson after the former NBA star’s departure from Liaoning Flying Leopards was confirmed last week.
It was revealed on Friday that Hudson will not be renewing his contract with Liaoning, bringing to an end a successful five-year stint during which he won one CBA title.
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“Hudson is a great player. He has helped Liaoning achieve brilliant results in the Chinese basketball league and has also helped raise the standard of the game here,” said Liu Jingyuan, Flying Leopards president and Chinese Basketball Association vice-president.
Hudson was a second-round pick by the Boston Celtics in the 2009 NBA Draft. He went on to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers before joining Liaoning.
During his five years with the Shenyang-based franchise, Hudson helped the team reach the CBA Finals three times, including the 2017-18 title run.
With a total of 10,544 points, Hudson is the third-highest scorer in CBA history and the first foreigner to surpass the 10,000 mark.
“Hudson, who was named MVP twice and led Liaoning to a CBA title, was the undisputed No 1 foreign player in the CBA league,” said Sohu Sports.
Chinese basketball commentator Zhang Yifei added his praise, saying: “With his outstanding ability, rich experience, courageous attempts and indefatigable effort, Hudson made history with Liaoning Flying Leopards.”
A statement from the Flying Leopards read: ‘The Liaoning Flying Leopards are like a running train. They have no end. But everyone on this train has his own destination. When Hudson gets off at his own station, although those who remain on the train are reluctant, they are grateful and wave goodbye.
“We cherish the moments that we shared and will let our great friendship go on. We will always be glad to say welcome home to Hudson when he comes to Liaoning again! Hudson, Liaoning will always be your home, and we will open our arms to you forever.”