It’s been a rough couple of years for Yao Ming, who has played in only five games since the 2008-09 season, will miss at least the rest of this season with an injury, and may or may not be contemplating retirement after the latest devastating setback to his once-promising career.
The 30-year old Yao, who was considered Houston’s franchise player not long ago, may not have much of a future with the Rockets, who have remade themselves into a run-and-gun team in Yao’s absence. However, even if Houston doesn’t have much interest in offering Yao a new contract, there may be at least one other team willing to take a risk on Yao. Here’s the report, courtesy of Yahoo!’s Marc Spears:
Don’t be surprised if the Warriors make a run at injured Houston Rockets center Yao Ming(notes) after he becomes a free agent this summer.
While Yao is expected to be out as long as 10 months after undergoing ankle surgery, the Warriors have long wanted to add him to help boost their profile in the area’s Asian community. Seldom-used rookie guard Jeremy Lin is nearly as popular as Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. The Warriors would jump at signing Yao for a reasonable price.
Signing Yao would obviously make sense from a business standpoint — I actually went to Yao’s first regular-season game in Oakland (which was officially “Yao Ming Night,”) — the place was packed, and the excitement in the arena was palpable. Whether or not Yao would make basketball sense for the Warriors is debateable — the Warriors play almost as “fast” as the Rockets do, and they have long-term commitments to both Ekpe Udoh and Andris Biedrins.
Yao’s ability to defend the rim could help the Warriors’ abysmal defense, and his ability to score inside could add another dimension to the Warriors’ perimeter-centric offense, but Yao was slow as molasses before his recent run of surgeries — how will he possibly keep up with the breakneck pace his Warrior teammates like to play at? Yao Ming is more than just an interesting figure or a great story; he’s a great basketball player when he’s healthy. If the Warriors do decide to make him an offer, they should make sure they have the right personnel to put around him, even if Yao only plays 15-20 minutes per game in the early going.
Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”
It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Indiana Pacers have been a franchise for 50 years — 10 in the ABA and 40 in the NBA. To celebrate this anniversary, they’ve unveiled a new patch that they will wear on their uniforms this season. You can check it out below:
It looks pretty sleek, combining the Pacers’ logo with the zero in “50.” It’s subtle and well-designed.
This summer, three of this generation’s defining NBA players, and three of the greatest players of all time, called it a career: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The latter two in particular had a lot in common, as psychotic competitors and polarizing personalities. They had many memorable battles over the years, including the Lakers-Celtics Finals in 2008 and 2010 (they each won one) and the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, when Garnett was in Minnesota. On Saturday afternoon, a day after Garnett officially announced his retirement, Kobe paid tribute to him with a tweet.
The next time they’ll be together is 2021, when they go into the Hall of Fame together.
With the NBA season around the corner, there are a lot of eyes on how teams and players will handle the national anthem protests that have become prominent in the NFL. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wholeheartedly supports the notion of his players participating, and hopes the whole team can figure out a statement to make together. Via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:
“Listen, we need social change. If anyone wants to deny that, they just need to study the history of our country,” he told the Southern California News Group on Friday. “… I’ve said it 100 times. There’s no more American thing to do than to protest. It’s the most patriotic thing we can do. There are protests I like and protests I don’t like. It doesn’t matter. …Protests are meant to start conversation. The conversation, you hope, leads to acknowledgement, and the acknowledgement leads to action. We’re, right now, still in the conversation.”
“I hope we do it as a group. I know whenever you protest as one solid group, the protest has more teeth if you want to protest,” he said. “… I’m supporting our guys’ right to protest. I’m saying that up front. My hope is you believe it and do it for the right reasons and not just because it’s a hot topic on Instagram.
Rivers has a unique perspective — his father was a police officer, but he’s seen plenty of racism in his life. This won’t be his first time leading a team when it comes to social issues — he was able to unite the Clippers in the spring of 2014 when the Donald Sterling racism scandal broke. It’s encouraging to see NBA coaches trending towards fostering open dialogue on their teams about these issues.