Yao Ming: What I've Learned
The NBA all-star discusses how he learned to dunk, why it's harder to drink in America than China, and the meaning of Chinglish .
If you're going to learn a new language, you can't try to be perfect. You'll stop yourself from talking. You just have to let go.
Sometimes it can feel like there are a billion people on my shoulders.
Friendship first, competition second. That's a very famous Chinese expression.
In America it's: Game is game. Friendship is friendship.
Fortune cookies are a good idea. If the message is positive, it can make your day a little better.
The question of courage is something I've thought about for a long time. Tell me if I'm wrong, but courage is when a man in a difficult situation acts as if he truly believes he's right. And in the end, he is right.
When I was young, we were taught not to dunk. We were taught not to stand out from the rest of the team. It's different now. The young guys in China are new age. They want to show their stuff. But I am old-school. It was a big adjustment when I first came here to play at a camp. The coaches told me to dunk, but I would lay the ball in. Finally, the coaches made everyone else on my team run laps when I didn't dunk. I didn't want my teammates to be punished because of me. That's how I learned to dunk.
A good leader must be fair.
There was a game when I was perfect from the field. The 2001 season in China. Finals. But my team lost. So I guess it wasn't a perfect game.
I can't say exactly when it changed. But when I came into the NBA, I felt like I was challenging everyone I went up against. After a while, it felt like they were challenging me.
The alcohol in China is made of rice. It's strong. You know it's strong when you drink it. So you have an idea what it can do to you. But here, you have alcohol that doesn't taste very strong. So you think you can have many shots. You don't find out the truth until the next morning.
I haven't done much trash-talking. But last year, I did complain about a call. Nobody could believe it. So I said, "I've spent a lot on English lessons. I want to get my money's worth." The official was laughing.
My American strength coach says he liked me better before I could talk English.
We don't have a tip culture in China. If you give a tip to an old waiter, he might feel like you don't respect him. But I think the younger waiters would take it.
When I got my first paycheck playing in China, I thought, I'm making money now! I'm independent! That first month I went broke. My next paycheck was two weeks away and I didn't have anything in my pocket. That was a good experience to have before coming to the NBA.
Our first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. Napoleon. Roosevelt. That would make a good table for dinner.
Power means different things in different times. But the more I read, the more I think power is about intelligence.
Kobe's heart is as strong as his muscles.
Our honeymoon was in Europe. One stop was Venice. Cost fifty dollars for a ride in the gondola. There was also the romantic package. Three hundred dollars. That gets a bottle of red wine and a man playing music. But I don't really drink red wine. And you can hear the music coming from the other boats. So the fifty-dollar package seemed like the way to go.
I dream in Chinese.
One man cannot change the entire game. Support is necessary.
Sometimes my wife and I mix Chinese and English words in the same sentence. We call it Chinglish.
If I could get the fortune cookie I wanted, it would say: No more injuries.
I felt that I twisted my ankle when I fell down. If it was a regular-season game, I probably would have come out and told the trainer we need to look at it. But it was a playoff game against the Lakers. The first home game. I twisted it again in the third quarter. Then again in the fourth. I can't blame myself. No true player would want to leave the court in that situation. This was not about Chinese culture or American culture. It was about the culture of being a competitor.
The doctor told me the worst case: There's less than 1 percent chance that you can die during the surgery. That's a risk.
Sports teach you how to be quick. Injuries teach you how to slow down.
They had to change the angle of the ankle in order to release the pressure from one bone to another. There will be a lot of rehab. The best lesson my parents taught me was patience. I'm going to need it.
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