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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Yao Ming Cares More About the Beijing Olympics than the NBA

And I don’t mean that to be a negative commentary about the man. His statement at the press conference on Tuesday sort of slipped under the radar for me. Upon incurring a season-ending stress fracture in his foot, Yao said it would be the biggest loss in his career if he were to miss out on the Olympics because of the injury. Here he is, in a country where most of the top stars decline an invitation to play for team USA, and he’s saying that not representing his country would be the biggest disappointment for him. That’s insane. It makes news headlines for us when a star NBA player says he will play for the U.S. — this news is incredibly difficult for us to comprehend.

So now I pose the question to you: is Yao off base in his thinking or does he have his priorities straight? Was his statement a noble one? Is being patriotic more important than being there for one’s NBA team? Have I lost complete sight of proper values by thinking players’ commitments to their NBA teams are more important than how the country performs in the Olympics? I just don’t think the Olympic team is a big deal for us; everyone already knows the best basketball is played in the U.S., what else do we have to prove? But for Yao, I can see why this would be a disappointment. He represents what, the largest country in the world? He was their hero, their savior? Possibly their largest international sportsman when the Olympics happen to be in his home country? I can see why this would be a major disappointment for him — he has the weight of his nation on his shoulders. I understand his comment and think most of it stems from patriotic pressure. I do have to say though that I don’t think it means our players have their priorities out of whack.



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