China · Sports

Goodbye, Yao

As expected, Yao Ming announced his retirement on Wednesday in Shanghai. He showed up with his family, including his little daughter and his parents, and not surprisingly, cried a few tears at the end. There’s been a lot of what-ifs said and written about Yao’s impact if injuries hadn’t taken their toll, but at the end, he has nothing to regret in spite of the ramifications of his retirement. The failings of Chinese basketball to develop more star players or do well in international tournaments lie with the sport authorities in China. Yao did the best he could for his country and club, and China and fans worldwide should be immensely grateful for him.

For more Yao Ming, read this New Yorker article all the way back in 2003 and check this highlight gallery of superlarge photos of Yao. The New Yorker article was written by Peter Hessler, one of the best China authors around, and as expected for something written by Hessler, is insightful and a bit sentimental. We get a good look into how China selects it basketball players from an early age and why many of its players don’t do so well as a team (Hint: sports ain’t fun when you’re basically forced to play it and made to practice all the time). Yao even correctly predicts that a handful of Chinese would be playing in the NBA 10 years when the writer asks him (as of now- 2011, there’s only one- Yi Jianlian). Of course, even back in 2003, Yao was special. A lot was expected from him and it’s good to see that he fulfilled expectations, albeit injuries curtailed his success. But even then, you can see from the article when Yao sues Coca Cola for using his image illegally after getting it from the national basketball association¬† that in spite of the heavy burdens put on him by his country, he was still willing to challenge some things. It’s a good read though it is very long.

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