Yao Ming Pimping BMW Plug-in Hybrid

Yao Ming apparently has a long standing relationship with BMW and now he’ll be pimping one of their cars. The Rockets made an appearance at the Shanghai auto show and helped BMW unveil a plug-in hybrid sedan based on the 5 Series. Right now it’s an electronic concept car that is set to go into production in 2013. It will be produced by BMW’s partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd.

Yao missed nearly the entire season after re-injuring his foot in November. The 7’6″ center will be a free agent this summer.

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Might Warriors Have Interest in Yao Ming as Jeremy Lin Fan Favorite Type?

It’s truly a shame that Yao Ming’s most distinguishing characteristic and physical asset has also been his downfall. The 7’6″ center, who played in all but two games his first three years in the league, has been plagued by injuries the past five seasons. His oversized and fragile body cannot handle the stress of running up and down a basketball court 30 minutes per game, 80 times a year, and it has resulted in multiple foot injuries. As such, the Houston Rockets are likely to give up on their former franchise player in the off-season, if not sooner.

Yao’s expiring $17.6 million contract could become a valuable trade asset around the time of the deadline. But once his deal ends after the season, who will want to sign him? Yao has said he wants to continue his NBA career, but he surely won’t command anywhere close to $17 million given his chronic foot and leg problems. Enter the Golden State Warriors.

At the end of a long column about a potential Carmelo Anthony trade to the Nets (yawn), Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports tossed in a nugget about the possibility that the Warriors make a run at Yao over the summer. He suggests their motivation may be to bring in someone who will be a major attraction within the local Asian community. Former Harvard point guard Jeremy Lin, who was recently recalled from the D League by the Warriors, has become a fan favorite. Yao Ming is a global icon and he would likely become an instant attraction in NorCal. If it does happen, it will certainly be at a major pay cut.

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.

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.

Yao’s Tired of T-Mac’s Injuries, Wants Team to Move on Without Him?

UPDATE: Yao says the story is B.S., no surprise.

Building an NBA team with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady is like starting a rotation with Mike Hampton and Carl Pavano. Yao’s constantly been plagued by foot injuries and has missed at least 25 games each of the past three seasons. T-Mac’s got knee, back, and shoulder issues and has been in and out of the lineup the past few seasons. Even when he’s trying to soldier through the pain, he’s often nowhere near full strength leaving us to wonder whether or not he’s doing more harm than good. Instead of playing limited minutes in games, T-Mac’s decided to sit out two weeks to try and let his surgically repaired knee heal. Sounds like it makes sense. Problem is the injuries and missed games are mounting leaving the Rockets wondering if it’s time to move on:

The Rockets are putting a positive spin on this, but Waiting for Tracy is a play that nobody in Houston wants to see anymore — up to and including the big man, Yao Ming.

“They don’t speak,” an extremely plugged-in person tells me. “And Yao wants him out.”

It’s not personal between Yao and McGrady. They like one another. But Yao’s frustration is real. And Yao is not the only person that’s grown tired of McGrady’s self-diagnosis, his up-to-the-last-minute decisions on whether he’ll play or not.

It’s really an unfortunate situation all the way around. As David Aldridge writes in his article, the two like each other — something that’s quite apparent when you see them interacting. It’s just hard to build a team around an unreliable dude. T-Mac had a great prime but now injuries have crushed him. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t; play through the pain and his skill is diminished, sit out and he’s only helping by subtraction. I can understand where the Rockets and Yao would just feel like it’s time to push on without him since it’s hard to count on T-Mac. Looks like they’re not the powerhouse everyone was expecting when Artest was acquired though they still can be dangerous.

By the way, this is a bigger story of teammate relationships than T.O./Romo/Witten, but since it’s the Rockets and not the Cowboys, ESPN won’t pay it much mind.

(via Matt Watson at FanHouse)

Dr. Yao Ming to Receive Honorary Degree from University of Hong Kong

So to answer the age old question: what do Bill Clinton and Yao Ming have in common? They both will be honorary recipients of degrees from the University of Hong Kong for their roles in HIV/AIDS research and advocacy. In case you’re wondering how Dr. Ming qualifies, HKU has it described:

Mr Yao has made outstanding contributions in HIV/AIDS advocacy, appearing with Mr Magic Johnson on commercials to support the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and taking part in various activities on the Mainland, such as visiting children living with the disease. He has helped fight the social and cultural stigma associated with HIV/AIDS with his positive attitude and participation in the prevention and treatment of the disease, and continues to advocate action, care and full integration of people living with HIV/AIDS. In September 2008, Mr Yao was presented with the Award for Outstanding Contributions to the AIDS Response by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

And now he’s receiving a doctorate in social sciences. Quite the honor, I must say. It’s nice to see Yao get the recognition for all of the wonderful things he does off the court. And in addition to Bill Clinton, Yao now has something in common with Venus Williams and Joe Morgan. Dr. Ming. I think it has a nice ring.

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.