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.
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.