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Bad predictions about Yao

thumbnailIn some of the worst predictions since the press picked Dewey to defeat Truman on the night of the 1948 elections, we thought we would hold some so-called “experts” accountable for what they said about Yao during the time Yao-believers knew he was the real deal.

Andy Munger, in an AllSports.com column, 5/3/02 :

    “I think he will make a career backup, not someone worth to be a top ten pick…

    “Yao Ming may not even make the CBA. He is perhaps the biggest hype the NBA has seen for a long time. He may be able to penetrate inside against Japanese or Korean players in international play, but does anyone really think Ming will move by Shack? The best thing for Yao to do would be to stay over there and get a nice job dropping his dream of playing in the NBA…”

    “He is soft on top and will not be able to handle the NBA defense or pressure play…”

    “His best hope would be to enroll in college and trying to improve his soft game before attempting to embarrass himself in the NBA.”

    Editor’s note: Munger wrote the following in his December 12th column:

    “I have to admit I thought Yao would be another Manute Bol and he has proven me wrong. Yao has quieted all his critics about his ability and potential to be an impact player in the NBA…”

    “The Houston Rockets knew what they were doing when they drafted Yao Ming.”

Bill Simmons, ESPN.com, May 2002:

    “Years from now, we will remember ‘Yao Ming over Jay Williams’ the same way we remember ‘Bowie over Jordan,’ ‘Traylor for Nowitzki,’ ‘Carroll for McHale and Parish,’ ‘Aguirre over Thomas’ and every other great draft day blunder in NBA history. I’m not just predicting it, I’m guaranteeing it.

    “Think about it. At best, Ming develops into a bigger, more athletic Rik Smits. Fine. But then you throw in Yao’s adjustment problems (going from China to the United States — yikes), his laid-back demeanor (what happens when NBA players start pushing him around, elbowing him and intimidating him?), his inability to play in the low post, and the way he’ll struggle fitting in with his teammates, as well as lofty expectations, inevitable problems adjusting to a higher level of competition, the fact that NBA players will go out of their way to dunk on him (just like they did with Shawn Bradley — and they ruined his confidence, too), the isolation of playing here, the meddling Chinese government … I mean, did Smits have to deal with any of those things?

    “Can’t you picture Shaq rubbing his hands together and saying, “I’m going to dunk on that Chinese guy as much as humanly possible next season”? This is a disaster waiting to happen. Repeat: This is a disaster waiting to happen. I feel very strongly about this. Just wanted to get that heard before the jury.”

    Editor’s note: Simmons wrote the following retraction in his January 6th column:

    “I’m an idiot. Forget about Yao’s emergence as the most polished rookie big man since Brad Daugherty, or that he offers the first worthy challenge to Shaq since Hakeem was still The Dream. If you’re a basketball fan, you love Yao Ming. He’s a godsend, the best Chinese import since General Tso. And I thought he’d stink. I may as well have predicted that Vin Baker would be the missing piece of the puzzle in Boston or the Blazers would be a team you could be proud to bring home to Mom.

    “Like many hoops junkies, I now stalk SportsCenter every night for a Yao fix. Exceptionally well schooled and mobile, he affects the game at both ends like nobody since Bill Walton. His turnaround jumper — a borderline work of art — might be the most unblockable move since Kareem’s skyhook. And when was the last time you saw a 7-footer start fastbreaks with 50-foot jai alai passes, or find open teammates with backdoor looks? In the Me-Me-Me NBA, that stuff isn’t supposed to happen…”

    For more of Simmons’ retraction, click here.

Dick Vitale, ESPN.com, 6/21/02:

    “I still feel that Yao Ming could be the second coming of LaRue Martin, the big man who was a first-round bust of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1972.”

    “My gut feeling tells me the Rockets are making a mistake, baby, in evaluating their overall No. 1 pick. Still, Rudy T could shock America by having NBA commissioner David Stern announce Williams’ name as the top pick. Then Houston would be moving toward the winner’s circle.”

Bob Wolfley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (click for article), 6/25/02:

    “If you had to predict where Yao will be five years from now in the National Basketball Association, it’s easier to mount the argument he’ll be closer to being Kent Benson or Pervis Ellison or Ralph Sampson than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Hakeem Olajuwon.

    “If you’re 7-5 and you’re not a shot-blocker or a game-altering defender, then what are you?

    “A bust from a would-be Ming Dynasty is what you are.”

    Editor’s note: Wolfley wrote the following in his January 20th column (click here for the entire retraction — use login of ‘antfarm@bugmenot.com’):

    “Back in June, this corner was referencing busts from the Ming Dynasty. Now? It’s closer to Yao as in Yeoooww. Rhymes with Wow.”

Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 11/10/02:

    “They call Yao Ming ‘The Next Big Thing,’ but he looks like the ‘Next Big Stiff’ … The Chinese government may want to go to war after Shaquille O’Neal puts a hole in Yao’s chest. He’ll have an average NBA career.”

    “…In the meantime, try to hold on to your cookies while watching Yao ‘Can you say Foul?’ Ming.”

    Editor’s note: Tillery wrote the following in his January 12th column:

    “I’ll eat a little crow. I’ll join Charles Barkley in saying that I was wrong about the No. 1 overall pick. Thank goodness I avoided saying that I would kiss a part of the body where the sun doesn’t shine to make my point. Looking back, my main view was that Yao would be average at best. Premature. He’s going to put up big numbers at this rate. That is, if the Rockets ever figure out how to use him. Against the Griz, Yao put up a double-double in less-than-dominating fashion. But he did alter my opinion of him because of his work down low.”

New York Daily News, 11/10/02:

    “The Rockets gambled on Yao Ming in the draft and so far it’s looking like they crapped out.”

Bob Matthews, Rochester Democrat and Herald, 11/10/02 :

    “The Great Wall of China is among the Seven Wonders of the World. Yao Ming becoming an All-Star caliber NBA center would merit consideration as the eighth. I’m glad I wasn’t a scout who recommended that the Houston Rockets select the 7-foot-5 Chinese center No. 1 overall in the 2002 NBA draft.”

    Editor’s note: Matthews wrote the following in his January 12th column:

    “I couldn’t have been more wrong in my premature evaluation of Houston rookie Yao Ming. He’s one of the NBA’s three or four best centers already and should be a dominant player for at least a decade. But if Shaquille O’Neal can’t be excited about playing against Yao in this game, and doesn’t dominate his much younger and inexperienced opponent, the Lakers are in worse shape than I think they are. ”

Charles Barkley on TNT, 11/14/02:

    “Yao Ming makes Shawn Bradley look like Bill Russell.”

Randy Brickley, Arizona Republic, 11/15/02:

    “…Inside of three or four years, (Yao will) probably be history.”

    “It also brings to mind an interesting question: How do you say LaRue Martin in Chinese?”

    “A master of almost no facet of the game, Yao makes Martin look like another historic basketball figure, Wilt Chamberlain. Manute Bol has a better chance of playing hockey than Yao does of having an All-Star career…”