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'*What they said about Yao' category archive

What they said: August 2006

Friday, August 4th, 2006
by John

“He is mobile enough to be a force. He runs the floor very well. He has a soft jump shot, good skills. For him, it is just the concept, the job description, that he must learn. That lane, it belongs to him. Everybody has to go through you. You reject everything that comes in there. It is your house.

“It is more of a mental picture for him to get in his mind and then extend out to other teams. ‘Oh no, we have to face the Rockets and Yao Ming! We have so much to worry about!’ He needs that mentality. Everybody talks about his skills. But he is a gentleman on the court. No. It is not a place for gentlemen. Not in the lane. He must be a force.

“It is about so much more than stats. It is that toughness, that image, that force that all big men must project. Tracy McGrady is a great player. But this is Yao Ming’s team. It should be. He has so much more to offer. It is not out of reach. I am a realistic person. He has what it takes. But he is trying to fit in when he should be making everyone fit in around him.

“Maybe you say it is cultural. I don’t know. But he can change. He can be taught. Let him see how it’s done. I know he has obligations this year (in China) with the world tournament. But next year, maybe he is free. I plan to be here. Hopefully, with a bigger camp. I would like to work with him.”

    – Hakeem Olajuwon on what he wants to teach Yao next year during his annual Big Man Camp in Houston, 8/3/06

What they said: November 2005

Sunday, November 27th, 2005
by John

“I’ve dealt with a lot of players and there (are) more misconceptions about Yao Ming than anyone.”

“Everyone wants to hate on him for some reason.”

“Kwame Brown was a No. 1 pick and the expectations on him are not (like this).”

“Yao is a very, very good player. People think he should already be great and want to talk about what he hasn’t done rather than what he has done. I choose not to do that.”

“Hopefully he will reach greatness. But the only guy I’ve heard him compared to is Shaquille O’Neal. Anyone compared to Shaquille O’Neal is going to pale in comparison. He is clearly, clearly, without question, the second best center in the league. It is not even close.”

    – Miscellaneous quotes from Jeff Van Gundy, 11/2/05

“I’ve already paid enough money (to the league in fines). Let’s not go there. It’s too early in the season.”

    — Jeff Van Gundy, when asked about Yao Ming’s foul trouble, 11/2/05

“Yao has sold that very, very well, about fatigue being an issue. It’s not. Yao is a great worker. He just wanted some free time, I think more mentally than physically, and no one should begrudge anybody that.”

    – Jeff Van Gundy after Yao requested some time off, 11/13/05

“I know right now, everybody’s hopping off the Yao bandwagon. That happens. People are fickle. When a guy doesn’t make (shots) it’s condemn Yao. It’s either Yao is right behind Shaq (O’Neal) or Yao is right below the worst center in the league. With Yao, the only thing I feel badly about is people try to raise expectations up so high, they’re actually satisfied with nothing that he does. I feel badly for him in that way.

“I’m not going to jump off because everyone else has.”

    – Jeff Van Gundy sympathizing for Yao and showing faith in him, 11/27/05

“It wasn’t as tough for me as Yao, because I had the ball 90 percent of the time. It’s different for a guy like Yao because we have to get him the ball. I already had the ball. I can create my own shot and create shots for other guys. That’s why it’s on us to get him the ball.”

“With the rule changes and the ability to completely take a guy out of the game like they’ve been doing, it’s simple. I was trying to tell the guys, it’s on us. It’s on the guys handling the ball to get him the ball. It’s going to be hard to get him post-ups. It’s going to be hard to throw him the ball on the post with a guy playing in front of him and a guy playing behind him. With me out, all the attention is focused on Yao.”

    – Teammate Tracy McGrady, wanting to help out Yao because of NBA rule changes making it difficult for centers to dominate, 11/27/05

“He had a bad stretch. We had a bad stretch. A post player is much more dependent on who he plays with than a perimeter player. Our strength as a team is not entering the ball to the post. We’re getting better.”

“Certainly the game has been made harder on the post player, and it’s a perimeter game. The foul calls the perimeter players get can be a little softer than inside. The touch fouls on the perimeter and the mayhem inside can be…for any big guy, a little bit difficult to figure out. But that’s how the league is.”

    – Jeff Van Gundy on Yao’s recent troubles offensively, 11/27/05

What they said: October 2005

Saturday, October 29th, 2005
by John

“If he listened to every critique about himself, he would be in a mental ward right now because he would have such self-doubt.”…

“I see a very productive player, a player who keeps getting better and an organization who just gave a guy every amount of money it could for a reason. Yeah, he’s got things he can work on and does work on and thankfully, Yao is a great worker.”

    – Jeff Van Gundy giving rare props, 10/28/05

“He looks more aggressive this year. He’s looking good. He’s staying strong and holding his position. That’s our best offense, getting the ball to him and going inside-out or me and him playing pick-and-roll.”

    – Teammate Tracy McGrady near the end of preseason, 10/23/05

“Yao is a very harsh critic of himself, and I think that can lead to good things when guys are very, very tough on themselves, and at times, he should worry less, have a shorter memory about mistakes. Sometimes being a harsh critic of yourself serves a guy well. Most of those people are perfectionists, which I think Yao is.”

“Everybody wants a guy to make improvements by leaps and bounds, and that’s not usually how it happens in the NBA. Yao’s improvement has been incremental. Yao’s made solid progress throughout his time in the league. The numbers say it. When you watch him says it. He’s done fine.

“Where is he at? He’s a very fine player.”

    – Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy as training camp starts, 10/05/05

“There’s so much on him. He has to not even worry about that, just go out be the best basketball player he can be and help his ballclub win. Then there won’t be that pressure. I don’t think he’s gotten that. But he’s young, and he’s improving every day.”

    – Teammate Tracy McGrady as training camp starts, 10/05/05

What they said: May thru August 2004

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004
by John

“He is a man of integrity and has good sense of humour. He is the perfect one to be the flag-bearer.”

    – Chinese Olympic delegation official Xiao Tian regarding Yao being chosen to be the flag-bearer for his country duing the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, 8/9/04

“He’s pretty much what you expect. He’s so big and I think I learned what I have to look forward to in the league. He’s a tough guy to have to face for your first NBA center.”

    – 7’5″ Dallas Maverick rookie center Pavel Podkolzine, after facing Yao in an exhibition game, 7/01/04

“If he had it, no one could stop it. Absolutely no one.

“I don’t think he really understands how to use his height when he’s in close at the basket. He wants to come out to 15 feet, where he can shoot over anybody. He can do that, but if he can get in closer to the basket and then operate from there, taking the six-foot shot, the high-percentage shot, that would really help his game. He doesn’t play the game that way at this point in his career. I think he could be very effective (if he played that way).”

“It’s like he’s doing it the hard way, you know. He’s not using his strengths to his best advantage. But that’s not his fault. Somebody has to show him.”

“I could help him. Patrick (Ewing) could show him. Patrick was effective. But Patrick also shot a lot of jumpers, so maybe Patrick isn’t focusing on that one specific (inside) aspect of his game. And when you have that kind of size, I think that’s what it is all about.

“I would imagine that (Yao) must get frustrated because people expect so much from him. He hasn’t been able to deliver. I can see he doesn’t understand the dynamics here. He’s very intelligent, he’s a good athlete, and he has a great attitude. He can be a great player, but nobody has taken him through those steps yet.”

“(The sky hook) is not sexy. Everybody who plays wants to be like Michael Jordan or shoot 3-pointers or be driving and dunking.

“Backing in and working the post, getting a high-percentage six-foot shot, has no visual appeal. But it really affects the bottom line — whether you win or lose. And that’s most important. It takes awhile until (players like Yao) have an understanding of the game that goes that deep.”

    – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, on the benefits of Yao adding the sky hook to his arsenal, 5/09/04

What they said: April 2004

Sunday, April 25th, 2004
by John

“I don’t think it should (wear him out). When one of your two best players has such a production decline in the last month of his only two seasons in the NBA, included in that is the playoffs this year, … there has got to be concern and you have to find out the answers, because if … one of your best players doesn’t play his best when his best is needed, then you’re going to be continually frustrated. Certainly we’ve got to come up with, along with Yao, a solution so he’s playing his best and we have a chance to play our best in April and hopefully May and June.”

    – Coach Jeff Van Gundy saying he’s not too concerned about Yao’s summer Olympic training schedule, but then backtracking a bit, 4/25/04

“One of the things he is going to have to realize is that Shaq already comes in with the mentality of hitting you first. So when you hit back, it’s obviously going to be a foul, even if you think it’s protecting yourself. So Yao might have to get the mentality that he’s going to have to hit Shaq first, maybe be tougher on him on the offensive end so maybe he can draw some of those offensive fouls like he did in Game 2.

“I know he’s frustrated. You foul out of a playoff game, it’s overtime — you’re frustrated. But at the same time, we can’t let him get away from what he does. He still has to be Yao. He’s not Shaq. He still has to focus on doing the things he does.”

    – Rockets power forward Maurice Taylor after the Rockets lost Game 4 where Yao fouled out of the game, 4/25/04

“He doesn’t have bravado, which a lot of players have — but he does have true confidence, which is very distinctive. I think a lot of players in our league don’t have as much confidence as they appear to have. It’s more that bravado.”

“He’s very humble, which is a blessing and, at times, a curse.”

“I think humility’s a great thing. I think one of the great demeanors he can learn from is Tim Duncan, who’s obviously a humble, team-oriented superstar, but also a fierce, fierce competitor who understands his impact on the game…

“He [Yao] is in his second full year and it remains to be seen where he’s going to take his career. Is he going to be a very good player, which is what he is? Is he going to be a great player, one of the all-time greats? I don’t know. We’ll find out over time…

“I’m not sure that he always appreciates just where he can take us…. He doesn’t mind being a backup singer and maybe at times, too much.”

    – Miscellaneous thoughts from Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, 4/23/04

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What they said: March 2004

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
by John

“He’s a good player, but at 7-7, he’s just doing what he’s supposed to do. So, it’s not that I’m going to say I’m not impressed, but at 7-7 you’re supposed to shoot over whoever’s sticking you. He’s a long, long drink of water. I probably won’t help out [on the defensive end] as much. I’ll probably lean on him a little more, get him tired. And hopefully in the fourth quarter I’ll have a little more than he will.”

“I’m just going to try to stay in front of him. If he scores, he scores. Hopefully, I can get the opportunity to go back at him. Whenever you’re playing somebody that’s a scorer, you have to make them work on both ends. So, if those guys are coming down shooting and not playing defense, then he’s probably going to have a big night.

“But I guarantee he won’t stick me one-on-one. I guarantee you that. They have to double- and triple- and do that. We play him straight up…. I think I can affect his shot most of the time.”

    – Shaquille O’Neal before his matchup against Yao on April 1st, 3/31/04

“It’s not just bad for Yao; it’s bad for our organization. We do not deserve to be penalized because he is 7-6 and has a wonderful attitude and respect toward officials. Again, I’m not begging, but it’s impossible. As much as we go to him, it’s impossible.”

“It’s inequity; it really is. Yao Ming does not get officiated correctly. Plain and simple, Milwaukee (on Sunday), three flops, three offensive fouls. Last game, no free throws. That doesn’t spark outrage, but if that was another center or another player, he’d be kicking the ball into the stands. It’s a joke. It’s really a joke.”

“He’s hard to officiate, but I feel it’s like saying some team is hard to prepare for as a coach. We get paid for it. I don’t know what that means. If it’s so easy, all of us could do it. O’Neal deserves his free throws. Believe me, he deserves his free throws. Probably more. All I’m saying is it’s impossible what is happening (to Yao).

“I don’t know why it’s happening. All I know is I’m right. I don’t know the reasons. I don’t know know the psychology. I just know I’m watching, he’s getting fouled, he should be living on the line, and it’s not happening.”

“(Yao’s) very easy to officiate, because no matter what you do, he’s just going to walk to the other end. He’s not going to make a stand. He’s not going to get a technical foul. He’s not going to kick a ball in the stands. And I applaud him for that. But he’s also being taken advantage of for his kindness and his respect, and he’s not being given the respect back.”

    – Rockets’ Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy on Yao not getting the calls he deserves, 3/31/04

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