Since Yao Ming entered the NBA (miss you, Big Fella), China has emerged as an untapped market for both the league and its players looking for brand-expansion. The Rockets, in particular, took full advantage of their connections to Yao and cashed in, becoming celebrities as the country started to embrace the game fully. Shane Battier was among those who recognized the potential and has made efforts to make himself a known commodity in the country.
Battier spoke to Sports Illustrated, and when asked about his prospects for playing overseas, made it clear he has one particular place in mind should he head over:
“If I were to play anywhere, I would look at China first because I have some connections there depend,” he said. “It would depend on the tenor of the negotiations and if it looks like well play a season.”
Battier believes more players will be inspired by Deron Williams decision to play in Turkey. “I was proud of him for taking that chance,” he said. “That will be a great experience for him and I would not be surprised if more guys follow suit. But it will be surprising if guys go over there for August training camp [as thats when camps tend to open in Europe]. If it doesnt look like well have the normal exhibition seas and preseason, you could see a bunch of guys go to Europe.”
via Shane Battier has plan in place during NBA lockout – Ian Thomsen – SI.com.
Battier is filling an interesting role in the lockout. He’s one on hand questioning Billy Hunter and the direction of the NBPA’s leadership, which paints him as some sort of rogue, and on the other supporting the players in their efforts and pushing back on ownership.
While Battier’s age and relative lack of stardom limits his European opportunities, in China he’s a known entity. It’s a smart play. We’ll see if Battier winds up making good on those connections.
Yao Ming, a player who was both one of the better all-around centers to ever play the game and a true ambassador of the sport — but leaves us all wondering what could have been — plans to announce his retirement.
Yao, who had played just five games the past season due to injuries, has realized he can’t recover enough to play again, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Yao, who missed all but five games of the 2010-11 season, hasn’t been able to fully recover from a tendon strain in his left leg. The veteran center informed the Rockets, the league office in New York, and NBA China of his decision to leave the game within the past 48 hours, sources said.
From a stretch of 2004 to 2007 he was the best center on the planet (if you are thinking of arguing Dwight Howard’s case, go check their head-to-head numbers). In the 2006-07 season he was the focus of the Houston Rockets offense (when on the floor 33 percent of the Rockets played ended with a Yao shot, foul or turnover), scoring 25 points a game and grabbing 9.4 boards. He had great moves around the basket, amazing footwork, but at 7’6” he also 48 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet out, and 44 percent from 16 feet out to the arc that season — you had to respect the jumper. He was also a gifted passer as a big man. He was a complete player.
He was an eight-time All-Star (in part due to a huge online vote from China, one which make him an All-Star last season even when injured and out for the season).
Then a series of injuries did in his career.
He will be remembered as one of the first true global ambassadors of the sport, brining the NBA to China. There could not have been a better person for the job, a thoughtful and kind giant that was loved and respected around the globe.
He will be missed.
With the NBA locked out because the owners aren’t making any (or enough) money? Who are the worst contracts in the NBA? Who are the guys we can blame for this mess?
Well, we should blame the general managers and owners who gave out these contracts.
But who have the worst contracts in the NBA? Over at the Wages of Wins blog — based on the NBA stats of Dave Berri, author of Wages of Wins — they took a crack at it. They figured the cost of an NBA win ($1.58 million, which is total salary paid by the league divided by wins) then used their “wins produced” stat to figure out how much people contributed. (I have issues with wins produced, but it still makes for an interesting discussion.)
Here are the top three:
1. Michael Redd (Milwaukee). He made $18.3 million and played just 134 minutes due to injury. This is a case of a max contract going bad that the owners can point to as why they want shorter deals and buyouts. The Bucks offered him a six-year max deal starting at $12 million a season in 2005, when he was regarded as maybe the best pure shooter in the game. That next season he averaged 23.3 points per game and shot 39.5 percent from three, and while we can debate if he really deserved max money the guy was a very good player and just 26 years old. Knee injuries undid him and he has never been quite the same, playing just 61 games total the last three years of that deal.
2. Andrea Bargnani (Toronto). I have a problem with this one. No doubt Bargnani is overpaid at $8.5 million last season and he gives the Raptors poor defense and poor rebounding, plus he doesn’t get to the line enough. But the guy scored 21.4 points per game and had an above average PER. I’m not a fan of defending him because he is overpaid, but not one of the most overpaid in the league.
3. Yao Ming (Houston). He made $17.7 million last season but played just five games due to injury. Which was five more than he played last season. Another case where the owners would like to argue for shorter contracts of having buyouts so that seriously injured players don’t to keep pulling in massive contracts.
The rest of the top 10 are Gilbert Arenas (he should be higher up than Bargnani), Antawn Jamison, Brandon Roy, Kenyon Martin, Richard Hamilton, Nick Collison and Ben Gordon
Last time we heard from Yao Ming, he didn’t sound like a guy confident he would be back.
Speaking with the Chinese media this week… pretty much the same thing. The New York Times found the interview and translated it.
“I don’t know if I would join some champion team in the future,” the China Daily quoted him as saying when asked about leaving a new-look Rockets team.
“I don’t even know if I can play again….
“Walking or jogging is okay… but I need to get 80 percent of my strength back to play. I have got only about 30 percent at most now.”
Yao has played five total games in the last two seasons due to injuries to his feet and his ankles. He’s coming off another surgery and it will be late this summer before he will find out if he even can attempt another comeback.
The man clearly wants to come back and he says he is motivated both by getting a ring and having his daughter see him play somewhere other than ESPN Classic. Two powerful motivators. If his body doesn’t betray him again.
There’s always hope. That’s the thought for a ballplayer looking to return from injury right up until that moment he finally hangs it up. You never want to let go until there’s just no chance for you get more minutes on the floor.
Yao Ming may be approaching that point.
The Houston Chronicle ran an in-depth article on Ming’s progress Sunday. Yao says that it won’t be until August most likely that he’ll know if he even can play ever again.
Yao, 30, said he “might” know in August or September if he will ever play in the NBA again.
He wants to. And he wants to play here. He just doesn’t know if his body will enable him.
“It’s too early to say still,” he said. “The experience I have (tells me to keep) doing what I am supposed to do every day.
“You never know what will happen tomorrow.”
via Solomon: Yao fights different battle on road to comeback | Solomon on Rockets/NBA | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.
Yao’s body has been through so much stress over the past five, six, what feels like twenty years, it’s hard to see him being able to recover. If he does decide to make a return he’ll have to get a new contract. Houston is going to feel obligated to give Yao one more try but if they do, they need to be extremely cautious with any offer granted.
This story is just sad, there’s really no way around it. Yao would have been one of the best big men of his era considering his touch, footwork and raw size. He had just started to shed his soft tag when the injuries began to tear him down. The excitement of seeing Yao back to full strength this season was palpable. Some things just aren’t meant to be.