Rules Do Not Apply When Yao Ming Is in China with Rockets

The Houston Rockets recently returned to the U.S. after a lengthy trip to China for the preseason. Lots of teams and players have been traveling abroad to help promote the NBA, but things are different when the Rockets make a trip. When Houston goes to China, they bring center Yao Ming who is one of the most well-known athletes in the world. The Chinese center is a god back home. Don’t believe me? Just let some of his teammates tell it:

Patrick Patterson: “When we first got off the plane in Beijing and went through customs, they had big signs all around that said you’re not allowed to take pictures in that area. But then you’ve got security guards, police officers and all the people behind desks taking pictures of Yao. So I picked up the sign and walked right beside Yao holding it– and they just kept taking pictures (laughs). Obviously the rules didn’t apply when Yao was there, so I think that’s a great indication of how much he means to China.”

Can’t say you’re surprised, can you? What’s incredible is how popular the Rockets are as a team in China, and how Yao’s hero status has resulted in his teammates becoming popular as well. Tracy McGrady used to have one of the best selling jerseys in the league because he was Yao’s teammate for so long, and now Shane Battier says he’s become a popular player because of the association. Battier also noted that the chemistry on the team is incredible and that it could take them to the next level. I love the optimism Shane, but there is still a ton of work to be done. I’ll keep the sentiment in mind as we watch Houston’s season unfold.

Mark Jackson Has Interesting Take on New NBA Technical Foul Rules

In case you haven’t heard, the NBA’s new stance on technical fouls is completely absurd.  Referees have been instructed to hand out technical fouls when players make aggressive hand gestures, demonstrate on themselves the way they were fouled, complain to an official about a call, walk a long distance to argue a call, and inquire about a call excessively (even if done in a civilized tone).  If that sounds like a joke to you, I’m afraid it’s not.

Although it’s only the preseason, we’ve already heard a ton of complaining about the new rules.  Refs have been fully enforcing them, and it remains to be seen if the authoritarian style of ruling will die down a bit in the regular season or if the zebras are just trying to mark their territory before the feast.  We’ll soon find out.

ABC color commentator Mark Jackson has an interesting take on the new technical foul rules.  Rather than focusing on the negatives that come along with being T’ed up, Jackson points out that great free throw shooters could benefit from it.  “If I was a guy like Reggie Miller I’d love the rule because it would add three or four points a night to my scoring total from technical fouls.”

I’m going to take the liberty of saying Jackson is joking, but with the way things are headed his thought may not be that far-fetched.  If the Kevin Garnetts and Ron Artests of the world are getting slapped with more Ts than they’re used to, the Ray Allens and Chauncey Billups will be sitting back and improving their resumes.

Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 1 Shoe Banned by NBA for Jumping Advantage

We’ve all heard about the shoes guaranteed to make you run faster and jump higher. At first, those dream loafers were called P.F. Fliers. Then Seinfeld let us know about Jimmy’s training shoes. Now, the NBA is banning a pair of shoes because they provide wearers an “undue competitive advantage.”

The shoes, called the Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 1, were banned because: “League rules regulate the footwear that players may wear during an NBA game. Under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game ‘that creates an undue competitive advantage (e.g., to increase a player’s vertical leap).’ In light of that rule…players will not be permitted to wear the APL shoes during NBA games.”

The Concept 1s go for $300 a pair and advertise a “Load ‘N Launch device is implanted in a cavity in the forefoot of the shoe and serves as a ‘launch pad’ by taking the energy exerted by the player and increasing lift with the aid of an intricate, spring-based propulsion system.”

Apparently anyone who puts them on will see an average increase in their vertical leap of 3.5 inches. Great, now I might be able to touch the net!

Toronto Fan Heckles Hedo Turkoglu: ‘You Have Zero Work Ethic’

What’s more sad, that there were so few fans at a Toronto Raptors preseason game we could hear a fan heckling Hedo Turkoglu, or the fact that Hedo was pwned by said fan? I’m not sure, but it was nice to see someone from Toronto get a little revenge after Michael Jordan of Turkey forced his way out of the city this off-season and got traded to Phoenix. Check out this video of a fan heckling Hedo Turkoglu at a Raptors-Suns preseason game via You Been Blinded:

Turkoglu apparently heckled back when he checked in at the scorer’s table, booing back at the fans. I’d say the fan got the better end of things. By the way, how about that for Toronto fans? We know they boo Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady whenever those guys return to the Air Canada Centre, and apparently Hedo has cracked the list. I don’t even want to know what will happen to Chris Bosh.

Eddie House: Middle Fingers to All the Miami Heat Haters

It’s no secret at this point that the Miami Heat have already become the center of attention in the basketball world.  There are plenty of people who already hate the Heat, and others who are “jealous as s***” of them.  One guy doesn’t give a rat’s behind what you think of the boys from South Beach, and he’s letting everyone know exactly how he feels about it.  Here’s the message Eddie House has for all the “haters” who want to see the Heat fall flat on their face.

I think, you know what, honestly, I don’t give a (expletive) about nobody else on the outside,” House said. “It doesn’t matter about anybody out there. I don’t care what their expectations are. We have our expectations and our goals. We are going to achieve them. That’s the bottom line.”

“So, at the end of the day, middle fingers to all the haters,” House said.

That’s about as straightforward as it can get, but I’m sure that’s how Eddie actually feels.  Coming over from the Celtics, the three point specialist is certainly no stranger to being on a hated squad and coming off the bench in support of a Big Three.  It may sound crazy, but the fact that House has dealt with identical circumstances in the past could be enough to make him a leader on a team that has an insane amount of star power and talent.

Whether the Heat live up to the enormous expectations they’ve set for themselves or not, I think it’s clear that the players couldn’t care less what Charles Barkley or anyone else has already predetermined about them.

LeBron James Debuts 8 South Beach Shoes, Sports Marlins Hat

LeBron James wasted no time promoting one of his first items that has serious Miami ties. Nike released the LeBron 8 South Beach shoes on Saturday, 10 days ahead of the Heat’s season debut. The shoe’s colors are similar to the Miami Dolphins’ and Florida Marlins’ colors and there’s expected to be another version with the Miami Heat’s colors coming out soon. The number 828 appears on the back: 82 for the number of regular season games, 28 for the maximum amount of playoff games a championship team can play. And, according to Ethan J. Skolnick, there’s also a lion’s head on the shoe to symbolize the power and strength LeBron brings to the court. Here is a pic of LeBron sporting his kicks and speaking at his publicity event on Saturday:

What gets me about LeBron is that he seemed to go out of his way to piss off Cleveland fans in 2007 when he wore a Yankees hat to support NY even though they were playing Cleveland in the ALDS. He’s a member of the Heat for three months and he’s already sporting a Marlins hat? Now that’s a slap in the face to Cleveland fans if I’ve seen one, but that’s no surprise.

Ron Artest Raffling Off His Championship Ring for Mental Health Charity

Lakers forward Ron Artest has gone from notoriously hated to universally beloved in a short amount of time. After getting into trouble in Detroit, he forced a trade out of Indiana, then went to Sacramento, Houston, and he now appears to have a home in Los Angeles. Since coming to LA, he’s had wacky hairstyles and he’s gone to the gym after delivering a game-winning shot in the playoffs. He also realized how rewarding it can be to do charity work and be a part of the community. So much so, Artest has decided to raffle off his championship ring for charity.

Artest’s raffle will be run through his Web site www.ronartest.com and it will be held on Christmas day. Tickets apparently will be $2 each with a minimum of five tickets purchased. The money will go to Artest’s non-profit organization and then will go to charity. What kind of charity you ask? Well anyone who knows Ron Artest knows he has a soft spot for mental health issues so the money will go to charities that help raise awareness for mental health. At this point, it looks like Ron Ron’s mission in life is to have people thank their psychiatrists in public without causing too many laughs. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. He really is a good guy when it gets down to it.