Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yao turns 26, but still isn't satisfied

BasketballJones said "anyone who wants to learn more about Chinese ballers not named Yao " should go here. Well, I'm afraid that I still do cover Yao, and will do so more extensively as the season approaches (countdown- 25 days till the start of the preseason).

So, first item of business. At the end of the article talking about Yao criticizing the CBA, there was a little two-paragraph add-on about Yao's birthday. Yep, that's right, 4 days ago, Yao Ming officially turned 26. How the years fly by. I think back on some of Yao's achievements, and I find myself struggling to remember, was it in his second year, or third year? Did that player play with Yao in 2006, or the year before? That either means I'm losing my memory, or it means that Yao is now a true NBA veteran. And, Yao, of course, realizes that as well.

"I am 26-year-old. There is no excuse to say I am still growing up. It is time to have good results...As a dominant centre, you need to lead your team to victories and win NBA championships. Shaq O'Neal has achieved the goal, but I have not yet."

Over 4 years, what has Yao gotten? A 20/10 season, a couple of playoffs appearances...and nothing else. He was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both times. The first time, against the Lakers, Yao had 10 points, and shot 3-of-10 in the final game. The second time, against the Mavs, 33 points from Yao meant nothing in a 40-point loss. Yao, being a guy who nevers think highly of himself, must have each time felt deeply affected by those losses and his own shortcomings. And, being the guy that he is, he simply went out and worked harder.

What is in store for Yao? Another first-round exit, a career that closely resembles Kevin Garnett? Will he forever play on a team that makes the playoffs consistently, but can never get past the first big hump? Or will he be the guy who lifts his team time and time again, and leads his team to the ultimate victory? Yao will never be satisfied until the number-one goal is reached, that championship ring. But will he ever get to it, by his hard work and willpower alone?

No comments: