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NBA - Challenges Face Yao-Mania

By Brian Ault
Sunday, August 25th, 2002
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Yao-mania. The latest buzz word that will be a staple of the 2002-2003 NBA season. Every fantasy owner is probably making plans to have the 7'6" center from China somewhere on their lineup. The people are lining up around the block or jamming the telephone wires to get the first Yao Ming jersey or pick up the first edition of NBA Live 2003 with Ming on it. In a few years, I'd agree with you 100%. But it's not a few years yet. Here's five reasons why he won't be the NBA's version of Ichiro Suzuki. At least not now.

1. The Bash Factor

To be a center in the NBA, you have to somehow learn how to smash some heads down low for the rebound or loose ball. As far as we know, Chinese basketball players aren't exactly known for getting heavily bumped up during a game. In the first years, guys like Rasheed Wallace and Elton Brand will eat him alive since they are both two of the best players in the NBA in bashing down low. He's going to have to learn to take a few shots and put up the layup along with his aerial repertoire if he wants to survive against the West's centers.

2. The Big Bullseye

Put yourself in the shoes of a veteran player. Who would you consider a better target to go after on the court, some unknown from Moorehead State or the No. 1 pick from the draft? This question is going to be out to not only a majority of veterans, but a strong majority of younger players trying to make a mark, during every single time Ming plays. From his opener at Indiana to the final game at Denver, people will want to take it to him. Then again, it might not be much of a change for him since that was the same attitude he faced with the Shanghai Sharks. Only difference is the players in the NBA have a bit more muscle, to say the least.

3. The Grueling Schedule

With the Sharks, Yao wasn't given the experience of back-to-back games. But with the Rockets now, he will have to duel with 13 back-to-back games this season. It may not effect him now, but how about later on? Will Yao still keep a high level of play if he goes 40 minutes two nights in a row? Only time will tell on this subject.

4. The Losing Streak

Yao is coming into the NBA from what is pretty much the L.A. Lakers of China to a team that is sort of starting to find its groove. He doesn't really know much on the front of a losing streak. With the Rockets, he will more than likely face just that. How is he going to react? He might face some setback during it which could affect his output with the team. Once he deals with the stress of facing a losing streak along with going through a winning streak, he'll be better in the long run.

5. Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq deserves his own category. Granted, Yao's taller than O'Neal by about five inches, but Shaq's bigger by about 40-50 pounds in the weight department. It's safe to say when the Rockets and the Lakers go at it on November 17th, he's going to feel the full force of that 40-50 pounds beating the holy hell out of him in the key. The only good thing about it though is it'll signal something in Yao's head to bulk up to match with the Shaq Daddy.

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