Amy Campbell Library > Biography > Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business, and the Making of an NBA Superstar

Operation Yao Ming: The Chinese Sports Empire, American Big Business, and the Making of an NBA Superstar

By Brook Larmer

The riveting tale at the back of NBA massive Yao Ming, the ruthless chinese language activities desktop that created him, and the East-West fight over China’s most famed son.

The NBA’s 7‘6" All-Star Yao Ming has replaced the face of basketball, revitalizing a league determined for a brand new hero whereas changing into a multimillionaire pitchman for Reebok and McDonald’s. yet his trip to America—like that of his forgotten foil, 7‘1" Wang Zhizhi—began lengthy prior to he set foot at the world’s brightest athletic degree.

Operation Yao Ming opens with the tale of the 2 boys’ mom and dad, basketball gamers introduced jointly through chinese language officers purpose on making a iteration of athletes who may deliver glory to their resurgent motherland. Their youngsters may haven't any extra freedom to settle on their fates. by way of age 13, Yao was once pulled out of activities university to hitch the Shanghai Sharks professional workforce, following within the footsteps of Wang, then the big name of the People’s Liberation military crew. Rumors of the pair of chinese language giants quickly attracted the NBA and American activities businesses, all wanting to faucet a industry of 1.3 billion shoppers.

In suspenseful scenes, journalist Brook Larmer info the backroom maneuverings that introduced China’s first avid gamers to the NBA. Drawing on years of firsthand reporting, Larmer uncovers the nerve-racking fact in the back of China’s force to provide Olympic champions, whereas additionally taking readers backstage of America’s multibillion-dollar activities empire. stuck within the heart are younger men—one becomes a mega-rich celebrity and hero to thousands, the opposite a suffering athlete rejected through his fatherland but misplaced in America.

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It used to be time for Nichols to make solid on his possibility. After lacing into his chinese language heart, he ordered the entire gamers other than Yao to run penalty laps round the fitness center. because the workforce performed his punishment, Yao stood on the middle of the courtroom, placing his head in disgrace. It took Yao many extra such humiliations, along with his teammates begging him to dunk, sooner than he ultimately all started going robust to the ring. “I couldn’t aid it,” Yao acknowledged. “I was once very conversant in laying the ball within the basket. ” yet after a number of weeks in the US, Yao used to be dunking approximately each probability he bought. He even began to get pleasure from it. no one may perhaps blame Yao for no longer absolutely appreciating the slam dunk. He’d been pointed out in a team-first approach that used to be a ways faraway from America’s in-your-face playground tradition. certainly, the space among American and chinese language basketball should be measured by way of the O P E R AT I O N YA O M I N G • 143 polar extremes of the 2 pictures each one tradition favorite: the dunk and the three-pointer. within the usa, the slam dunk is the final word expression of freedom, creativity, and power—a gravity-defying shot which can flip a video game or make a reputation. due to the sky-walking wonders of the NBA, the dunk has turn into so renowned that it has even spawned its personal vernacular, from the “tomahawk” (a one-handed slam thrown down clear of the physique) to the “alley-oop” (a cross stuck within the air and dunked in one motion). “Three-sixties” are wonders of twirling grace, whereas a “thunder dunk” can deliver down the house—and the backboard in addition to it. the main devastating dunks, notwithstanding, can “posterize” competitors who're stuck below the basket simply because the slam comes down and the flashbulbs burst off. those situations of hoop humiliation, brought within the grill of opposing gamers, actually have a identify: “facials. ” chinese language gurus, ever delicate to issues of face, have regularly had a difficult time embracing the slam dunk. whilst Yao was once growing to be up, his coaches pushed aside dunking as a self-aggrandizing flourish that detracted from crew team spirit and subjected rivals to an pointless lack of face. Curious still, Yao tried his first dunk whilst was once 13 years old—and good over six ft tall—but he pinned the ball opposed to the iron. He waited a couple of extra years earlier than trying—and failing—again. He didn’t fear approximately it, he acknowledged, simply because his coaches didn’t both. Basketball, they taught him, used to be approximately ability and teamwork, no longer chest-beating aggression. It required extra expertise, they acknowledged, to sink a turnaround jumper or to kiss the ball off the glass. In these early days, complete seasons glided by in China with no unmarried dunk. within the overdue Eighties and early Nineties, as America’s fascination with the dunk intensified, chinese language basketball professionals grew to become enthusiastic about the three-point shot. Having determined that their avid gamers might by no means fit the rate of the american citizens or the scale of the jap Europeans, they attempted to spawn a kingdom of gunners. in the course of education, coaches advised their younger avid gamers to take enormous quantities of pictures in a row from past the 20'6" three-point arc.

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