Ignore all other considerations. Forget what might be best for the Rockets or what might be in Yao Ming's best interests. Consider only China.
Whether Yao finally takes a summer off from international competition will not be his decision. The Asia Games are to be played this summer, and if he is asked or told to play, he will without complaint.
But this is the summer China would be best served to instruct Yao to take some time off, then work on his conditioning and skills while the national team wins without him.
Next summer, he will play for the Chinese national team in the World Championships. In 2007, he might train with the team in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. In 2008, the Olympics will be in Beijing, and that is understandably the priority for China's sports leaders.
Like many nations and more than most, China does not like to be told what is in its interests, especially from the West. The last thing Beijing wants is for Yao to become another NBA player indifferent about representing his country.
But there is no chance of that. None. Yao is not about to beg off playing for China. He has never looked more determined, more visibly driven than when playing in last summer's Olympics in Athens. China's goals are his goals. He also seems to know that he would be helped by a summer to rest, heal and train, without spending time preparing for any specific opponent.
"That's not under my control, if I go or not," Yao said. "If they want me, I go. But I really hope I can have two months, or 1 1/2 months of practice in Houston in the summer. I want to work this summer on conditioning, post moves, anything."
Asked what he would do if it were under his control, he said, "I don't want to say."
I was wondering if his recent 'calf injury" is a actually a "conspiracy" by Team Yao with Houston Rockets trying to let yao have a rest and practce in the USA during the summer? :wink: j/kYao's current injury, a deep bruise in his right calf, will be gone long before training for the Asia Games would begin. But it could be a symbol of the wear of competition.
Jeff Van Gundy has insisted that Yao's summer workload has not limited his growth. But there are other ways the Rockets would have him work on his body and his game.
"I haven't gotten into that very much because you have to accept every player for what he can do," Van Gundy said. "If his commitment is elsewhere in the summer, it's what he has to do. If he can stay here and it's what he feels is best for him, that's good, too. I think it's overdone (and) overblown what he's done in the summer as far as precluding him from improving. I don't agree with that at all."