Friday, July 8, 2011
So Long, Yao
Yao Ming announced his retirement today after years of nagging leg and foot issues, and with that, so goes another giant, riding his specially made Cadillac Escalade off into the sunset. The NBA is, of course, full of tall guys, but there's an extra tall man who stands out even among the rest of the giants in the league. 7 feet tall is freaking tall, but when you get over 7'2", then you are that special breed of monstrously huge freaks. And the career span (as well as, sadly, life span) of these behemoths is extremely short in comparison to those who are merely tall. The human body isn't designed to be able to support men who are nearly 8 feet tall, and this is evidenced by the foot and knee problems that are always the undoing of the excessively tall. From the tallest player ever, Gheorge Muresan (who had a pituitary issue) to The Dunking Dutchman Rik Smits (who's feet forced him into an early retirement), to Yao himself (who's knees and feet have always kept him a step away from the Injured list), the list goes on and on.
While Mark Eaton, Manute Bol (another premature casualty) and Muresan were all more novelty than anything else (look at the 8 foot tall guy who can block a shot and dunk standing up!), Yao actually packed a ton of talent into his sideshow body. Although he was never tough enough to satisfy certain basketball types (he preferred to shoot feathery fadeaways and lay the ball in rather than dunk), Yao was probably the most talented player over 7'3" that ever played basketball. Not to mention, he was the first great Asian player ever and is without a doubt the best Asian to ever pick up a basketball (as a tall Asian person, myself, I salute him). So, here's to Yao Ming, who was more than just a tall guy who was forced onto the basketball court because of his size, but was unfortunately forced off the court too early because of it.