Yao Ming was never more clear, never sounded more certain. He raised his voice just a touch and made sure to pronounce each word so there would be no questions.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers down to their last chance in regulation and the ball and game in LeBron James' hands, James took off toward the rim. The Rockets held a three-point lead. Twenty-two seconds remained. And Yao came at him, arms raised to the length of a 7-6 center's reach for the meeting of two of the game's most celebrated figures.
James slipped in his shot. Yao was called for a foul. And after James' free throw sent the game to overtime, the Cavaliers beat the Rockets 104-102 on Sunday before 16,839 at Toyota Center.
Yao and the Rockets were convinced he did not foul James.
"Hey look," Yao said. "I'm not in my first day playing basketball. I knew we were up three. I knew he was shooting a two. There was no need to foul him. And believe me, the contact I get on the inside is much more difficult than he gets. And I do not get calls the whole year. I'm very clear about it. I know my hand was straight, maybe back.
"Whatever they (officials) say, the game has passed already."
You can tell these losses are really killing him.