Sunday, August 20, 2006

More on Yao

I seem to have forgotten to say anything about Yao in my previous post, due to the fact that my ranting about China took over. Well, my apologies.

To be honest, that was probably the best game I've seen from Yao in a long, long time, including his numerous 30+ point outings this past season. Probably the only better game would be his 39 point, 13 rebound performance in the 04 Olympics.

It's obvious his mentality when playing with his national team is so different than with the Rockets. I thought Yao had become more of a leader with the Rockets this past season, but watching him against Italy, I realized I was wrong. His did become much more of a leader with Rockets, but it still didn't match what he's like now. He went out there, and grabbed rebounds like they were ping-pong balls just waiting to be grabbed, and then dunked them like they were hotcakes. There was one play where he got the ball, dunked the ball with all his might, got fouled, and then screamed. I mean screamed as in YELLED. You would never, ever see that with Yao in the NBA.

He talks to the refs without fear, to the his coaches without reserve, and to his teammates with outright authority and even anger. None of which he does in the NBA (can you imagine him facing up to JVG? That would be a sight to behold). It's obvious that he is the team captain, and not just in name.

Now, I think that anyone who has seen Yao in two totally different frames of minds has asked the question: Can he duplicate this mentality with the Rockets? In my personal opinion, no. I think it's obvious that he puts so much more value into playing on his national team, for China, his country. He's already said that, if he had to choose, he would rather quit the and win a gold medal, then do the opposite and win a championship with the Rockets. Now, that's not to say that he doesn't try. Just the opposite, he probably tries too much, and is probably the biggest self-criticizer in the NBA. Nevertheless, I think he's an unashamed patriot, and playing for his motherland will always be first in his heart.

However, if you despair at this, I think that Yao will certainly become more aggressive in the NBA as time progresses. However, I don't think he'll ever become someone like Shaq who puts up huge numbers. He'll put the team first, like Tim Duncan (those two are very similar, in game and mentality), and score only if that's what they want. He'll probably be considered one of the best centers of the 00's, and he'll certainly be considered as a pioneer for international players and for Chinese players. He'll probably even go to the Hall of Fame for the same reason. But the killer instinct will never be developed (another Spur that springs to mind would be David Robinson).

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