So, Nate blocks Yao. Several bloggers relate Yao's problems and recent rise to China's problems and rise.
Last month, 7'6" Yao Ming had a shot blocked by 5'9" Knick guard Nate Robinson. If there was ever a moment when Yao seemed to epitomize his country's struggles over the last few centuries, there it was....even more so when you look at the video and realize that Robinson got away with a poke in the eye after the fact. Yao entered the NBA with so much hype and so much promise. Yet for the last few years Yao never seemed to make The Leap: that next step from 'solid frontline player' to dominant center. Sure he had his moments. He would rise to occasions against Shaq, for example. But to be a big man in the NBA you have to have a mean streak and Yao was too soft, too passive....
Call it pride, call it maturity, or maybe Yao just got tired of sportswriters, fellow players, and coaches constantly referring to him by a certain five-letter epithet synonymous with "cat," Yao has decided to get mean--throwing down on people and yelling in their faces (earning Yao a "T" against Minnesota), pushing people around the paint and generally deciding that screw you all, I WILL be the baddest m----------r walking this court. It's a new look and it's paid off. None of this "nice humble guy" crap....
what does this have to do with China today?
It seems that the CCP is learning from Yao. In today's New York Times there is an article about China's exploration of what it means to be a great power in the world--and that it sometimes means occasionally throwing an elbow and talking trash to the other team.
Dan Harris in his China Law Blog disagrees:
My view of Yao Ming differs greatly from that of the Granite Studio. I do not see him as a great basketball player, even if I were to buy into the idea that he has played great in the last month or so. He is a good basketball player who is 7'6" tall. He lacks desire. He lacks heart. I once asked a long time Division I college football coach whether he had ever seen a player come into college lacking "heart" and then acquire it while there. He told me no.
Yao Ming has always lacked heart and a purported month of greatness will not change that. Yao Ming's history will be based on far more than his one month of purported greatness and when his time in the NBA is over, he will more often be compared to Ralph Sampson than to Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlin.
I think we should be equally careful in rushing to proclaim China a great power.