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NY Times article gets quotes from Yao on Jeremy signing with Houston

July 25th, 2012
by John

Today’s print edition of the New York Times published a good piece on Jeremy Lin following Yao’s path in the NBA and China, getting some quotes from Yao himself. Here are some interesting excerpts:

So it was no surprise that as Lin figured out his future, seeking millions on the free-agent market while trying to remain loyal to the Knicks, he consulted with Yao.

This time, Yao said, he was of only limited help.

“Only he knew what he needed most,” Yao said in a telephone interview from China. “He had to make the decision on his own. I didn’t want to affect him too much.”

Lin’s decision to sign an offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, Yao’s former team, and the Knicks’ decision to let Lin go, set off a fierce debate in New York.

Yao, for his part, thought the outcome was ideal.

“I’m so glad the Knicks didn’t match the contract,” Yao said. “Houston is a good place for Jeremy to come to. It’s a good fit because both sides can provide the best opportunity for each other.

Yao recalled that the environment in a smaller market helped make him a better player. In eight seasons, all with the Rockets, the 7-foot-6 Yao averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as a center.

“In Houston, we have a very good community and great fans,” Yao said. “With less media coverage, I think it made me focus more on basketball. I think that’s one reason I played so well.

The Rockets hope that Lin, who is of both Chinese and Taiwanese descent, can continue the franchise’s popularity in China, for which Yao was responsible.

The people in China are very familiar with Houston,” said Yao, who, since retiring from the N.B.A. because of chronic injuries, has become the owner of the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. “The Rockets have been a symbol here for the last 10 years, and now that can be continued. It’s great for people here. I can’t imagine them being any more excited than this.

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