November 21, 2006

Yao Ming Attends Nate Robinson's Block Party

Recently had a conversation with a friend about Yao Ming, and what made said conversation noteworthy was when my friend pointed out that, though Yao is playing at a very high level, there’s really nothing more awkward-looking than when he turns the ball over, and at times, it looks like there’s nothing easier in the world than slapping the ball out of his hands.

This was noteworthy because those very words proved prophetic on Monday night, when Knicks’ guard Nate Robinson absolutely packed a Yao dunk attempt with his left hand.

Things you need to know about this:

  • Nate Robinson is listed at 5-9 but he’s probably shorter. Yao is listed at 7-6 and he’s probably 7-6.
  • Robinson is not left-handed.
  • Robinson is an incredible leaper, but he is not in any way, shape or form a shot-blocker. The block on Yao was his third career block in his 84th NBA game. That’s right -- third block. Ever.
  • Also, if you watch the video closely, it’s not like Nate Robinson (great leaper that he is) had to climb to superhuman heights to turn Yao away at the rim. He got the ball right when it was near the bottom of the backboard. Which is to say, Nate Robinson blocked Yao Ming without even having to jump his absolute highest.
  • The moment after he got blocked, Yao doubled over and grabbed his face. Though from watching the video it’s clear that Robinson may have followed through and hit Yao in the face after blocking the shot, the image of Yao doubling over is comical in that it is emblematic of a man who has just been delivered one of the worst facials in history.

The bottom line is this: Yao Ming is a great player, but he way too often looks like another guy his height who made getting posterized a way of life. Someone needs to toughen Yao up. I’m thinking it’s high time Jeff Van Gundy, Dikembe Mutombo and maybe Rafer Alston take the big fella out into the wilderness and run him through a series of grueling activities (pushing boulders, herding cattle, meaninglessly swinging a pick axe, etc.) while some sort of motivational soundtrack from an 80’s movie plays in the background.

Whatever the case, I think the Rockets and Yao Ming need to call a press conference to detail some sort of game plan for how they’re going to deal with this incident. Their man in the middle has been embarrassed, and something needs to be done. I almost think there needs to be a staged scenario in Houston Town Square (not that such a place exists) where Nate Robinson agrees to let Yao dunk on his head on a 9-foot goal, just so that we can be sure that Yao’s psyche isn’t fractured beyond repair.

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  • And speaking of facials, how about the dunk that Warriors’ guard Monta Ellis served up on Leandro Barbosa Monday night? The caption on this Youtube clip is “monta ellis DESTROYS barbosa,” and that just about sums it up. Watching the game live I can honestly say that was one of the most electrifying sports moments I can recall in recent memory. And give the Warriors’ TV announcers (and fans) credit for rising to the moment as well.
  • Transitioning to perhaps the only thing that’s more uncomfortable than being blocked or dunked on by an undersized NBA guard, Trail Blazers’ center Joel Przybilla recently had surgery to remove a hematoma from his lower abdomen. Don’t know about the rest of you, but something about the juxtaposition of “hematoma” and “lower abdomen” is enough to make me double over like Yao did after Nate Robinson swatted his shot.

6 Comments:

Blogger jimmyrad said...

If you're 7-6, slow, and spend a significant amount of time under the basket, your going to have two things happen to you, occasionally, no matter how tough you are:

1. Get dunked on.

2. Get nastily rejected.

At times it gets frustrating, beyond frustrating, to see the ball swatted out of Yao's hands as he puts it on the floor. Or to see him hold the ball over his head and have a guy jump from the blind side and just knock it away. However, watching him go 12-18 in the same game as he lays the ball up like a 12-year old trying not to break the rim on his little nerf hoop can make up for it.

I think your love for the high-flying, up tempo, Warriors-style basketball is blinding you to the fact that at least twice a game Yao will look like a little girl, and about 15 times a game he'll make it look like he's pretty much unstoppable.

He's not flashy, but he's plenty tough and it's defintiely showing this year.

6:03 PM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger The OCC said...

I think your man love for Yao is blinding you to how badly he got packed by a guy 21 inches shorter than him. That's like being 6-foot tall and getting blocked by a guy who's 4-foot-3. Should not ever happen, under any circumstances.

Yao's a great player, but the fact that he just became #3 on Nate Robinson's hit list proves that he could still use quite a bit of toughening up.

10:08 PM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

No, it does not. When Yao is playing like he has played this year, it is quite clear that he has done enough "toughening up" to dominate a game. What you want is for him to have the agility of a guy that is 6'9". Yao will always be awkward. That comes with being 7'6". Should they call in Patrick Ewing to sit on the bench and do nothing to appease the folks that think he needs a "tough" mentor? Wait, they already did that. Supposedly, Ewing helped Yao in one are: Locating the Accounting Department at the Toyota Center to pick up checks.

If you do not see a difference, on defense, offense, and toughness, in Yao this year, then the Knicks game the other night was the 1st Rockets game you've seen.

Also, since I'm defending Yao. What the hell is Kenny Smith talking about on the call? "That was clean! He hit him in the face AFTER the block, so that was clean!"

Huh? After the block you can do whatever you want. Nate could have drop-kicked Yao on his way down and it's clean?

9:38 AM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Frank G Yak said...

I agree JRads on Yao playing some spectacular ball for the rockets this year. I think he’s one of the top players in basketball and I’d love to have him on my team.

However, he got packed by a 5'9 guy … embarrassing moments happen to pro athletes, i recognize that it happens -- doesn't mean i shouldn't soak it up when they do.

1:25 PM, November 22, 2006  
Blogger jimmyrad said...

I can agree with that. He's also had some of the nastiest "Shawn Bradley-esque" posterizations in the past few years. Fred Jones, specifically, comes to mind. I guess I just took issue with the play being used as a way to show that Yao has yet to toughen up and, in fact, is in dire need to do so when, in actuality, he's playing MVP caliber ball. He will continue to have awkward, slow moments that make him look like a giant stiff and make for good highlights, though.

10:15 AM, November 23, 2006  
Anonymous Aimee Berg said...

I think Jimmy's been changing too many diapers lately. But I'm sure he and Steve Sheldon have a beautiful baby together. (They play in the basketball pool together, so I figure they have a child together.)

That play is going to be on every blooper/highlight reel from now until the end of time -- along with the minor league baseball player running through the center field fence and various versions of "football in the groin."

To wit: "Barney's movie had heart, but 'Football in the Groin' had a football in the groin."

3:09 PM, November 24, 2006  

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