Professional and College Basketball Forums banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
4,547 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=bucher_ric&id=2404746

Awesome article

That he played for another couple of minutes against the Jazz and actually scored five points before hobbling to the bench and then to the locker room and straight into the offseason is not that astonishing, either.

One, because he has been playing for the last month knowing the Rockets would have no chance of winning with anything short of a great game from him, and there's no more team-oriented player in the league than Yao.

And, two, because since he's been in the NBA, playing with pain in his left foot is more familiar than playing without it.

Thanks to the primitive level of sports medicine in the People's Republic of China, and Yao's selflessness in trying to answer every demand placed upon him by the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese national team and the Rockets, Yao played nearly four years with a big toe whose nail resembled Freddy Krueger's grill, which made it really hard to tell when it became infected.


He couldn't give in to the pain when he first hurt it during his last season for the Sharks, because he had a championship to win to assure team officials would allow him to come to the NBA. Then he had to carry Team China on his shoulders at the 2002 World Championships, what with fellow star Wang Zhi Zhi persona non grata after opting to play summer league rather than train with the national team.

Then, of course, he had his No. 1 selection by the Rockets to make good on. Followed by more national-team play, followed by answering the bell for hard-driving coach Jeff Van Gundy. Basketball feet are never a pretty sight, but Yao's big toe was particularly unsightly after Danny Fortson stepped on it, at which point the infection was discovered. The subsequent surgery was so invasive that Yao's left foot is now a size 17, a full size smaller than his right.

As of last week, though, the absence of that constant pain had him as relaxed as I've ever seen him. Which means going back to the first time we met, the night after his last regular-season game with the Sharks in March of 2002.

"You wouldn't believe the difference," he said of having two good big toes. "Imagine playing with a rock in your shoe and not on the bottom, but on the top. Every game, every day. I got used to it, and sometimes it was worse than other times. But it feels so good now I thought about having something taken off my right foot."

"I always felt it was my job to get everybody else shots and then get mine," he said. "Now I know it should be the reverse. Sometimes I have to try to score even when the double team is there."

I'll be honest -- having seen where Yao came from, the selfless philosophy of life drummed into every Chinese citizen every day of his existence and his belief in those principles, I wondered how long it would take him to be as dominating as his critics wanted him to be. I certainly didn't expect it this season.

I knew from the start that anyone who questioned his heart or his desire or his guts had never faced the challenges he has and were talking out of the sides of their necks. But I also had to concede that maybe he'd never demonstrate how wrong his critics were in the quantifiable way they wanted.

He's done that now, because he hasn't simply put up big numbers. He's led the Rockets in McGrady's absence by attacking opponents and punishing them. I'll never forget Zydrunas Ilgauskas scoring on him a few weeks ago and Yao going to the other end, posting Z up, knocking him back and burying a short step-back jumper. The expression on his face: "Yeah, and there's more where that came from."

My howl from the couch alarmed the entire family. I'm not sure my explanation to them hit home, and I don't know that I can offer a better one here. There are moments when an athlete or a person does something that reflects an attribute you suspected was there but didn't really have certifiable proof of. It's not the act itself, but the person's attitude about what he's just done. An attitude that indicates that what he did doesn't strike him as all that extraordinary and it won't be the last time you see it.

For all the points and impressive performances Yao has had, I'd never seen that haughtiness before. That sense of I'm-the-big-dog-here and I'm about to make that painfully apparent to you.

Concerns that the broken bone is the third major injury Yao has sustained to his left foot -- his all-essential primary pivot as a right-hander -- are sure to arise. Hey, I have concerns.

But, considering the incomparable mental toughness required not only to win the approval of his country to leave but also to persevere in a game and a culture wholly different than the ones he grew up with, there's no reason to worry about how he'll come back from this latest setback.

The answer, if his track record is any indication: Better than ever.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,126 Posts
lol tru

his written lots of hate articles before but at least in this 1 he highlights the good points

if he wanted to be a hater he'd write about how yao is slow, low stamina, poor stats for his height blah blah.. the usual what haters right
 

· Registered
Joined
·
5,781 Posts
Many of these writers who mostly produce crap can actually write fairly convincingly. Because they are poor analysts and/or are biased and/or don't really care, most of their articles are garbage. However, when they do get on the right track, they can produce some surprisingly good stuff.
 

· MVP
Joined
·
8,956 Posts
Hakeem said:
Many of these writers who mostly produce crap can actually write fairly convincingly. Because they are poor analysts and/or are biased and/or don't really care, most of their articles are garbage. However, when they do get on the right track, they can produce some surprisingly good stuff.
Bucher was the co-author of Yao's book and normally speaks very highly of him. He's been waiting a long time to write this article IMO.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top