Maharashtra United's Lily Zhang: "It's really cool to see Kevin Durant on the [Golden State] Warriors"
Since the Indian Premier League's first season back in 2008, it's success has not only helped the quality of Indian cricketers improve, especially the youngsters, but the business model of building a professional league has helped other sports as well - Football, Badminton, Kabbadi and most recently Table Tennis.
As we speak, the second season of Ultimate Table Tennis, India's professional league for Table Tennis, is in progress and will commence on the 1st of July after taking off on the 14th of June. The league consists of six teams with each team constituting of four men and four women athletes. Furthermore, each team is allowed one international and Indian coach each.
Lily Zhang, a 4-time US Table Tennis Champion and 2-time Olympian, is a member of Maharashtra United. A huge member of the current NBA Champions - the Golden State Warriors - Zhang took some time off her busy schedule to speak with me for Sportskeeda.
Q: Hi Lily, thank you so much for taking time and speaking with us. We hear that you are a huge Golden State Warriors' fan, and given the high the team is on right now, there would be no better time to speak to you about the Dubs? How did you react and celebrate Golden State's most recent sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals?
Lily Zhang: I thought it was so awesome. I was really surprised that it was a 4-0 victory, though, because I thought LeBron James and the Cavaliers would have really fought back and had a really close match. But I think after Game 1, after such a close and nail-biting finish, the Warriors gained a lot of confidence and were able to go forward and finish the entire match.
Q: The Warriors have played in the NBA Finals for four straight years, each time meeting James and the Cavs. Can you give us your thoughts on this Cavs-Warriors rivalry and whether it's good or bad for the league?
LZ: I think it's awesome. It's such a cool rivalry but it has some of the best players in the NBA. You have LeBron James on the other side while Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant on the Warriors' side. It's really cool to see them play the Finals and I think all the fans are very excited to see what will happen in the coming years.
Q: As a fellow athlete, what is your take on the Warriors' signing Kevin Durant as a free agent in the summer of 2016?
LZ: It's really cool to see Kevin Durant on the Warriors. I know some people aren't super excited about it but I think that Steph and Kevin work really well as a team and they are both pretty selfless. Both of them really try to just help the team and not put the spotlight on themselves. I personally think it's [Golden State signing KD] cool.
Q: Like many Warriors' fans, is Stephen Curry your favourite player on the team?
LZ: Yeah, he is. I love Stephen Curry and his whole family is just so cool. Especially Riley, she is so cute.
Q: In about a season's time, the Warriors' arena moves from Oakland to San Francisco. You being a native of San Fran, how does impact you? Does your travel to the arena increase or decrease?
LZ: I think it will be a really interesting change. The Oakland fans have been so loyal to the Warriors for so long but I really think they have progressed to the next level. So I think, moving to San Francisco is a great move for them but it'll be interesting to see how the Oakland fans will react especially since they have stuck with the team for so long.
But personally, either way, is great because I go to Berkeley, which is right next to Oakland and is also 20 minutes from San Francisco. I'm, for sure. a fan all the way!
Q: Have you seen their new arena - the Chase Center?
LZ: From the outside, yes.
Q: The Dubs have won 3 championships in 4 years but I'm sure every Warriors' fan is interested to know where LeBron James is headed this offseason. What are your thoughts on that?
LZ: LeBron James is one of the best players of all-time. Period. So everyone is just on their feet, waiting to see where he'll be next. Maybe, he'll play in another Championship game with the Warriors, so hopefully, the rivalry continues.
Q: Before I let you go, Lily, just want to slip in one question about the Indian Table Tennis team. The Indian National TT team had a really strong showing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Can you comment on their performance and are they now becoming a force to reckon with in the world of Table Tennis?
LZ: Absolutely. Table Tennis in India is growing rapidly, especially with the start of the UTT league. You can definitely see the results come on the international stage where both the men's and women's teams are doing exceedingly well, which is so cool to see Table Tennis grow in another country. I think that, in the future, it will continue to grow and it's awesome.