We all know that Yao Ming is literally and figuratively the biggest thing in the history of Chinese basketball. We also all know that China is the most populous nation on Earth. Put those two things together and you realize that Yao is more incredibly famous than you could ever imagine. That’s math for ya.
It’s hard to keep 1.4 billion people happy, but Yao’s done an amazing job of doing just that. That’s why Shane Battier’s more than willing to lump him in with some pretty special people. And since it’s Shane Battier, you know it must be true. From the Houston Chronicle:
“He has supernatural patience,” Rockets teammate Shane Battier said. “He really is, outside of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the most patient person I’ve read about or been around. He’s always patient with people. He creates a frenzy. People want to touch him and see if he’s real. He’s almost a mythical character.
“I can’t imagine the burden he feels. He’s never expressed that, but he knows the pressure he is under, which makes his success all the more remarkable. The weight he carries every time he steps on the court is tremendous. Most people would crumble under that. Not only has Yao survived, he’s thrived and become a tremendous player, one of the best players in the world.”
Just to clarify — according to Shane Battier, Yao Ming is basically a hybrid of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, a unicorn and The Thing. High praise, indeed.
Plus, Yao’s done it all with a smile — and occasionally super awkward grimace — on his face and a flattop on his head. That really is quite impressive, and not just because flattops haven’t been in vogue for 15 years. He was expected to revolutionize Chinese basketball (done) and the way people think about Chinese basketball players (also done). That’s a Herculean task for one man, especially one with fragile feet.
It might sound silly that Shane Battier would compare Yao to legendary civil rights leaders, mythical creatures and superheroes all in the space of two paragraphs — and really, it probably is — but it is pretty amazing that Yao’s done what he has, how he has. Maybe his countrymen can lay off a bit. Geez.