Is Yao Ming Too Big to Ever Be Great?

You know, with Yao Ming being out for the next 8-12 weeks because of a fracture in his foot, I got to thinking (yes, cue up the Worm talking to Grandma clip): will Yao’s injuries, due to his size, prevent him from being great? It’s arguable that Yao’s skills and development could get him up there as one of the better centers of all-time. Currently he’s likely the second best big man in the game to Dwight Howard. While not exceptional, Yao’s a good scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker. He is however an excellent shooter for his size and a very good passer. The paradox here is that Yao’s size helps him dominate opponents but could also keep him from achieving great heights with his team.

Each of Yao’s past four seasons have been marred by injuries — all to the legs and mostly involving his feet. Despite playing in all but two games his first three seasons, Yao went three straight years without playing more than 57 games in a season and wound up getting knocked out of the playoffs with a foot fracture this year. He has your typical knee issues that would bother any big man, but the big debilitating injury that stands out the most to me is the constant foot problems. The constant broken bones in his feet is the product of one thing — size. He puts abnormal pressure on his feet and his body is asked to do a lot for someone who’s 7’6″.

It’s a shame that Yao has developed his game and become such a good team player but that his foot injuries may keep him from ever realizing his potential. Furthermore, in this league, you’re measured by your success in the postseason. If Yao can never make it through a year, how’s he ever supposed to lead his team to a title? I don’t think Yao will ever get the recognition because of his postseason failures, injury-related or not. Instead, Yao should be measured by what his body allows because he’s making the most of what he has.

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  • SpinMax

    The NBA has made this into a small player league. The big guys take a beating while getting few calls. On the flipside if you hand check…or hell even breathe on some of the smaller skill players it’s a foul. The smaller guys are allowed to carry the ball, travel, do whatever and get away with it. Opposing teams can also send 7′ unskilled bench players out there to physically take it to a skilled 7 footer.

  • Gene

    Unfortunately you are right. Yao will not be judged by what he has accomplished during the regular season, but by what he has missed in the postseason.

    He shoots free throws at better than 85%, which undermines the notion that a big man cannot excel at the charity stripe.