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Chron: Yao is breath of fresh air

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    They gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Not bad, Yao!


    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    A belated close-up of Yao Ming's rookie season as a Houston Rocket, The Year of the Yao shows a reluctant superstar shouldering the weight of two worlds. One is his home of China, where basketball is taught as a team sport fueled by finesse.

    The other is America, where NBA stars can be aggressive showboats on the court and flashy materialists beyond it. Somewhere in between, Yao must be his own man.

    His adjustments are seen as much through the eyes of his interpreter, Colin Pine, as his own. Pine narrates the film, which winds up being a surprisingly touching buddy picture.

    "He was much more than a translator to me," Yao says. "We were like brothers."

    Though the 7-foot-6 athlete speaks some English in the film, mostly we hear Pines' interpretations. Yao's face also speaks volumes, from his excitement at first to his exhaustion at the end, when an overload of demands takes its toll.

    Win or lose, in an era of sports idols as rock stars, Yao is a breath of fresh air: humble and dedicated, warm and human.

    The pity is that Year of the Yao is so tardy. Yao is about to finish his third season in Houston, and every coach and teammate seen on screen has been replaced. Only in the end credits do we see the current Rockets, on a team trip to China last fall.

    Yet Yao's rookie year remains ripe for one thing: the offbeat amusement of culture-shock.

    This can be culinary, as when Yao gets his first taste of turkey or has soul food explained to him by teammate Cuttino Mobley. Or it can be competitive, as when Yao faces the NBA's dominant center, Shaquille O'Neal. Year of the Yao drums up their confrontations like gladiatorial bouts.

    At the Houston home Yao shares with his parents, we see doorways open almost to the ceiling so he won't have to stoop. We also see him driving on Houston freeways with Pine, who cautions Yao about the road rage of armed drivers. Welcome to America!

    Focus also goes to China, a nation resistant to celebrity culture yet enthralled by basketball heroics. For one Rockets telecast, fans watch on TV in the Shanghai morning, cheering wildly for their hero.

    That hero isn't always happy. During his first NBA All-Star Weekend, Yao is a prisoner of fame , rushed from room to room to — oh yes, the game.

    But whether taking O'Neal's elbow to the face or learning to be a TV pitchman, Yao is patient and philosophical. He often speaks in witty metaphors, and he clearly embraces the chance to compete on basketball's highest level.

    Year of the Yao doesn't end with feel-good triumph. After coach Rudy Tomjanovich steps aside to fight cancer, a distressed, weary Yao is unable to pull Houston into the playoffs.

    But that was then. Now, Yao and the new Rockets are considered contenders. If Year of the Yao could have gone beyond promising first steps to show recent strides, its story would have been complete.
  2. CompaqC

    CompaqC Member

    Jun 29, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Actually the story would be complete by winning a championship in the near future, then they could make "Year of the Yao 2" :D sort of like Hakeem's video about his career that was sealed with the 1st championship....a must-see for all Rocket fans!
  3. TECH

    TECH Contributing Member

    Nov 6, 2002
    Likes Received:
    The next movie better be "FEAR OF THE YAO"
    ....from an opponents perspective. :)

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