Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chinese people LOVE me! (16)

"Chinese people love me because...... I always pick up on the important news promptly."

Yao Ming is out of action for the rest of this NBA season after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot a couple of days ago. Of rather more concern to the Chinese is the fact that (if his surgery is botched, or he has a slow recovery) he might not be able to play in the Olympics. Even at the best, he's likely to be out of training for at least 3-4 months, and the Olympics are now barely 5-and-a-half months away. It's not looking too good.

Now, I have absolutely no interest in basketball whatsoever - I find it one of the most tedious games on earth. But I have developed a sneaking affection for Yao, who does - to all appearances - seem to be a genuinely modest and amiable chap, one of the few really worthy role models among the ranks of today's superstar athletes.

And I feel your pain, China. As an England football fan, I have been through this sort of torture all too often - with Lineker, Gascoigne, Owen, Beckham..... and now Rooney.

[A rueful aside: It says much about the current state of the English national team that there isn't really anyone other than Rooney whose indiposition would cause us much consternation. It's hard to view the loss of Crouch or Lampard as crippling blows. And we have, of late, become rather too used to having none of our top three or four picks at centreback available. And we have no clear first-choice fullbacks or goalkeeper...... Oh, woe, woe, woe.]

I wish Yao a speedy recovery - not only because he's a decent lad, and deserves his moment in the Olympic spotlight on home turf; but also because China's millions of basketball fans will be insufferably grumpy about it for years if he doesn't make it to the Games. Come on, Yao; jia you!!


The British Cowboy said...

I would be interested to see his contract. He clearly wants to play, and the Olympics will be around the end of his recovery time. There may well be a big tug between Houston and China over whether he is allowed to play or not.

Now, with any other country, I would say the club wins. But from the last player to come over 9cannnot remember his name, went to the Milwaukee Bucks) it seems China is very protective of the contract situations of its national players, so the situation may not be as clear cut as for Tony parker, for example.

Froog said...

Yes, I'd be pretty sure Yao would insist himself on a release for international competitions (or have it imposed on him by the China ruling body, whatever it's called).

How many foreign nationals are there in the NBA now? And how many of them are from a country that actually gives a damn about international basketball? (Indeed, how much of a damn does America really give about international basketball??)

I would think that Yao and China are pretty much a unique situation in that regard.

The British Cowboy said...

Basketball is (I think) the second most followed sport in the world now, after football. There are LOTS of overseas players in the NBA now - I am willing to guess over 10%.

Having looked it up, the best number I can find is from 2006-06, when there were 82 international players. With there being 30 teams, with 12 men rosters (also 3 inactives which I guess we will include) that makes 450 players. That's a lot more than 10%.

There has been a long tradition of players from the ex-Yugoslavia over here. Many countries now seem to care a lot about basketball. On the other hand, the US only seems to care about international basketball in limited occasions - when the US is playing. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth of the recent Olympic losses, for example. Which is very silly, because it is a fundamentally different game to that played in the NBA.