By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2009
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2009
Yao may have been "big time" in China, but the Rockets were starting to think they had made a mistake in drafting him. Fortunately, after a while the gentle giant came to life in a big way.
Yao’s parents, both basketball players, didn't want him to follow in their footsteps. Once an athlete's career was over, he or she had nothing to fall back on and they didn't want that for him. Learning how to play basketball isn't really in the genes and his first attempt at shooting a basket was a dud. He later claimed, "I was really just so embarrassed." He was a timid young man and had to not only learn to plan the game, but had to learn to be more assertive on the court. By the time he was sixteen he was 7-foot-2, still growing and starting to become a force to be reckoned with. By the time he was drafted into the NBA he was a towering 7-foot-6.
Wang Zhizhi was the first Chinese player to make it into the NBA, but it was later said that although Yao wasn't the first, "he was the first to prove that he belonged." He was understandably nervous when he first came into the league and when Steve Francis befriended him it made a huge difference. As he came out of his shell, Yao began to "dominate the paint" and later gained a five-year extension on his contract for a whopping $75 million. He played ball nonstop, season in and season out to fulfill his contract to not only the NBA, but also his country. In this book you'll read about his Olympic embarrassment, the "conspiracy theory" surrounding him, how he was plagued by injuries, his campaign to end the slaughter of sharks used for soup, how he went up against Shaq, his marriage to Ye Li, why he is a global superstar and more!
This book will grab the reader right in the prologue. You'll learn some very interesting facts about Yao and will get a fairly good idea about what his personality is like. This is not the type of biography where you'll find out what he ate for breakfast or what he did when he was a youngster. This biography is for the die-hard basketball fan, young or old alike. We're looking at many exciting games, several of which are delved into in great detail. For example, it was mentioned in one game that Yao "threw his elbow into Okur's chin." If you're not heavy into basketball you will be disappointed, but if you are a big fan of Yao's and his game, this biography will WOW you big time! In the back of the book is an excellent index, source materials, a glossary, career statistics and additional recommended book and website resources.
Quill says: An excellent biography on Yao Ming for the diehard fan.