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Yao Ming says Jeremy Lin could change Chinese basketball

Feb 23, 2012, 9:51 AM EDT

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks Getty Images

It’s been one of the most commonly asked questions about Jeremy Lin — how did he slip through the cracks of the system

This is a guy who was one of the most dominant high school players in the Bay Area but couldn’t get a major college scholarship offer and went to Harvard. After four years there he couldn’t get drafted by NBA teams. He went to Summer League and showed real promise, but languished on the Warriors bench for a year, then they cut him. Then the Rockets cut him. The Knicks sent him to the D-League (where he racked up a triple-double) and he only got his chance there because of injuries.

How did this happen?

Yao Ming is asking the same thing about China, he said to Reuters.

“This is something else that Jeremy Lin has brought to us. It has given us something to reflect on, whether there are imperfections over the development and selection process for our basketball players over the past 10 or 20 years,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Yao said he was aware of Lin — who is an American, a first generation of Taiwanese descent — but did not offer him advice.

“First, New York and Houston are different. Also, the cultures of the two basketball teams are different, the cities are different, the teammates he faces are different, so I don’t wish to tell him too much.

“If I do so, perhaps I will give him too much pressure.”

That pressure is on Lin now, but he is handling it incredibly well.

  1. Exiled1 - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Yao Ming then blew a knee trying to make his next comment.

  2. adnan604 - Feb 23, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    that second quote there from Yao, about him not wishing to tell Lin too much in fear of pressuring him ??
    must be something lost in translation, whatever it means in Chinese though I would like to know…. because the meaning of that whole quote is lost to me

    • hwatt - Feb 23, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      how about ‘you carry the weight of all of China on your shoulders now. Do not play like $(*$, for you and your family will be forever dishonored. Now go and have fun’

      While I was trying to be funny, it’s sorta true, how many other Chinese superstars are there in the NBA? 0. It’s just him, the rest of the world will tend to judge all current and future asian talents on his performance.

  3. SOBEIT - Feb 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    There are many reasons Lin got overlooked. There are too many prospects to evaluate. So in an effort to be efficient, you have to come up with standards. Those standards limit some prospects because they fall outside of the “norm”. Those that fall into the norm are evaluated thoroughly. But this is a problem for any sport. The norm is generated over years of identifying what is consistently successful.

    But norms are meant to be re-written by superior athletes as well as by the unknown players who bust through the walls placed in front of them. The height and speed and athleticism of players keep being redefined with each new crop of prospects.

    But look at the opposite evaluation process. How many top rated prospects become busts? They were thoroughly evaluated and yet failed once they made the transition to the pros. So evaluating is an imperfect process and made more difficult with the increase of prospects around the country and now the world.

    But the most difficult evaluation process is the intangible. I guess you can call it IQ or heart…and it is used frequently for players. Lin kicked down door for himself and took advantage. But now he is opening doors for other kids who may have fallen outside of the norm and they might have more visibility and opportunity to have a career as a pro. I think that is the key to any unknown being successful.

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