In this video, you’ll see the first meeting between Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin. Many of you who read YaoMingMania.com may already know about Lin. He’s a very accomplished college basketball player who just graduated from Harvard, and has signed a partially-guaranteed contract with Golden State. Many Asian-Americans have been following his progress through college, hoping he can ‘represent’ them as the first American player in the NBA to be of ethnic Chinese and Taiwanese descent.
Obviously, Lin is a big deal in Taiwan, too, as you’ll see from the reaction of the crowd whenever he touches the ball. He was a late addition to play in this Taipei game, and had just flown in the day before to play. Several Lin fans had asked me over the years if Yao Ming had ever met Lin, or if a meeting could ever be arranged. Well, that meeting finally happened, and I was able to capture their first meeting ever in this video.
You’ll also see in this video many of the players having fun before the game. Aaron Brooks twirls a pack of napkins on his finger, makes an underhand granny shot from behind the basket on his first attempt, Amir Johnson makes a crazy shot from behind the backboard, and Brandon Jennings tries all kinds of trick shots sitting from the bench and trying to kick the ball into the basket.
Aaron is quite a crack-up. For example, the Taipei crowd was eerily quiet (except for when there was a score, then they cheered). Because of this, they played music during every possession to provide some kind of noise during game action, except during free throws, of course. Before one free throw attempt when the music was off, Aaron had some fun and said out loud, “Hi everybody!” (this isn’t on the video, but thought I’d share with you how funny Aaron is).
You’ll also see on the video the introduction of Yao Ming to the crowd. They cheer him heartily, as you would expect. What I didn’t expect was to hear them play the “Yao Ming” song when he came out onto the court. As you may know, this song was created by a local Houston fan several years ago, and was a song I thought would only get played in Houston. That’s why it was a pleasant surprise to hear a DJ play it in front of thousands of Taiwanese fans, making it a global song now. I’m sure the guy who created that song is happy to hear this news!
The NBA players are announced shortly after Yao is introduced, and I show in the video Chase and Aaron getting introduced. The guy who gets the biggest ovation, though, is Jennings. He received lots of attention for the show he put on during the first Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing a few days earlier. It doesn’t take long for the word to spread among millions of fans if you have a good performance in front of them in their own country.
I included several clips of great plays from the game too numerous to mention, but keep an eye out for great plays from Jennings, Amir Johnson, and Chase. Some of them happen so quickly, or are so spectacular, you might be compelled to rewind some of them to see them all over again.
One of my favorite moments of the video is when Yao Ming urges on the Taipei crowd to get Chase to do an impromptu dunk. First, I have never seen Yao have so much fun with a crowd like this before. Second, it shows how much Yao is impressed with Chase’s athleticism and dunking ability that he would immediately choose him. Chase would later tell me that he was happy that Yao had that much confidence in his abilities to pick him without hesitation.
What’s not shown in the video is how many breaks there were during the game for various contests to be held with Taiwanese celebrities, like free throw shooting or a skills drill. Sometimes these breaks would last for 15 minutes or more! That was definitely something the NBA players weren’t accustomed to experiencing, so they had to continually keep warming up after these long breaks so they didn’t pull a muscle or hurt themselves when they went back on the court to play.
By the end of the game, all of the players were pretty tired of having to warm themselves up mentally and physical over-and-over. Aaron, quite the jokester, wrapped himself up in several towels mummy-style to keep himself warm, and to have some fun on the bench unlike what he could do during an NBA game.