I came across an interesting blog post today by a guy associated with the Phoenix Suns who was able to fly with many of the NBA players who helped Yao out by playing in the Yao & Nash charity game last week.
If you ever wondered if NBA fans in China are still rabid about the league, this blog post will make it clear…
We had a bus departing at 10 a.m. for the grand opening of Yao Ming’s health club – California Fitness Yao Ming (sister company to 24 Hour Fitnress). Steve and LB (Leandro Barbosa) signed autographs for several fans, some who drove over 1,500 miles just to get an autograph. A couple of the girls began crying because they were so excited to get the autographs – You might have thought it was the Beatles!
We arrived at a square downtown in which the introduction of the club would take place. We all met Jackie Chan and proceeded to an area with an outdoor stage and some chairs. About 100 media and supporters were present, while the nearby streets and shops were lined with thousands of fans trying to get a picture or autograph of some of the stars. Yao arrived and the opening ensued. As we were being escorted up to the club (video footage coming soon), the 10 or so security guards we had were no match for the rabid fans. People were pushing and fighting to get close to the players, some just to touch them. Security was hurling people out of the way without hesitation. I was just waiting to be one of the unlucky individuals to take a beating. I stayed close to Steve and Leandro, although I’m still not sure if that was a good or bad idea. I also had to push some people away from LB as they were getting out of control. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. OUT OF CONTROL!
To read the entire blog post, including the pretty cool charter flight the writer was able to take with many of the American players, click here.