The Yao Show

China Cult of Celebrity

Great Wall of China, Air China, Red Dragon, or some other cliched nickname...

Yao Ming, please. You’re killing me. First, you don’t pull a Kobe and stick to your guns to get “drafted” by a team that has a nice large population of Asian-Americans (I’m looking at you Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, Nets, and my beloved, yet lowly, Golden State Warriors). So you end up in Houston. A city with a significant Asian-American population, but not known as a Metropolitan city with a eclectic and worldly mix of Asian-Americans, unless you count the 3 different types of Vietnamese dialects that live there. If you played at Staples weekly, or MSG or the Brooklyn Arena, or even my Oracle Arena, then you’d sell out every game and build an even greater fan base throughout the world. Instead, you play for the largest city in Texas, which is like saying you’re the inmate with the prettiest eyes at Folsom State Prison. But the worst part of it all? When you DO visit the other cities, basketball plays second fiddle to the greatest show on earth: THE VISITING 7’5″ GIANT CHINESE BASKETBALL PLAYER, yao ming.

World's Tallest Man - Bao Xishun - 7'-7"

Not Yao Ming

You’ve become a spectacle. A traveling freak show. Sure, there are true fans of China Basketball that show up with Yao jersies. But when the Rockets come into town, you can be damn sure the home team sells tickets based on the fact that you’re different than the rest of the players:

  • Orlando Magic: “East meets East” night (Eastern player playing against an Eastern Conference team) where they served sushi (What?!), egg rolls and lo mein.
  • Golden State Warriors: Karate exhibition by mostly Non-Asians.
  • Chicago Bulls lion dancing during halftime.

When I was at a Warriors/Rockets game last year, I had to put up with a halftime show that had ALL the following:  lion dances, a karate competition, Chinese acrobats and a Chinese woman throwing bowls from her foot up to her head while on a unicycle. Pretty soon, all the NBA stadiums will run out of ideas and they’ll resort to math competitions and spelling bees during halftime?!
You know what this is like? It’s like selling fried plaintains and having a raggaeton-themed half time show when Puerto Rican national, Carlos Arroyo of the Orlando Magic comes to town or doing a Samba-themed halftime show with capoeira performances when Brazilian Leandro Barbosa of the Suns comes over.

I’m not really sure what you do for a halftime instead (maybe a half court shot competition for a trip to Shanghai?) but if you want Asian-Americans to come watch local games against the Rockets, getting some Asian kids to juggle and karate chop isn’t the answer, I could stay home and see that in the mirror.

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4 thoughts on “The Yao Show

  1. do you think this is Yao’s fault tho? yeah, this shit is totally racist, and i dunno how the whole NBA promotional thing works, but i’d guess its more the doing of Rockets’ ownership. BTW big ups on the pic of world’s tallest man. Go Mongolians!

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  2. You are correct, I don’t think it’s entirely Yao’s fault. I mostly blame him for not pushing to go to a team in a City with a significant Asian-American population like Oakland, New York, LA… Which would have been better for the League, Yao, China and Asian-Americans. I think it sucked that he went to Houston, which is so unaccustomed to Chinese culture, the Rockets had their staff go through sensitivity training. This was one of the main reasons why the only two legitimate teams to make final bids on Ichiro a few years ago were the Seattle Mariners and the SF Giants (DAMN YOU SEATOWN). In hind site though, him going to Oakland wouldn’t have been much better based on how they’re the worst offenders when it comes to Chinese halftime show shenanigans….

    But I do think it’s mostly the League and the teams at fault. Yao never had to suffer through the Asian-American stereotypes depicted by the shows including karate and juggling dishes. A 7’-6” bballing Chinese man in China transplanted to the States is not going to understand that the kung fu chopping/Chinese acrobats are a mockery to his culture. Although he HAS acknowledged how ridiculous it was to have a karate competition with mostly non-Asians… Yao’s actually a walking and talking counter example of the “Asians can’t play sports” stereotype (not including me of course). Maybe this is the same arguments people used for Obama when they said he’s not REALLY African-American, because he’s AFRICAN-American. But yes, I do agree it’s mostly not Yao’s fault, simply because he’s ASIAN-American and not Asian-American. And because gwei lo’s control the League.

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  3. uhh..maybe you guys didnt get the memo? this is phase 1 of THE MASTER PLAN!

    everyone knows the final phase will involve a strike with the white hot fury of a thousand ninja warriors, riding on samurai, wrapped up in shaolin monks! lol!

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