Thursday, December 16, 2010
Fall of the Great Wall
Yao. Ming. Hurt. Three words no Rockets' fan wants to hear. Three words that have become too common. This time the pain may be as long as the star going down. In the offseason, Yao said worst case scenario would be to retire if he is not able to fully recover from his foot/ankle problems. We may have reached that point. It was announced today that Yao has a stress fracture in his left ankle. In the last 5 years, Yao's injury list reads: infection of the bone in his left foot, broken right knee, stress fracture in his left foot, hairline fracture in his left foot, eventual surgery on a broken bone in his left foot and now the stress fracture in his left ankle. Currently, he has screws in his foot to make sure it heals properly. OUCH! With so many previous surgeries, the option to have reconstructive ankle surgery (if needed) would be a complicated approach. I hope you are thanking your blessings that you can walk.
Yao remains optimistic as always but everyone knows optimism doesn't get you wins or 20+ points and 10 rebounds a game. Before breaking his right knee in 2006, he was considered an early MVP candidate. His numbers were beastly - 26.8 ppg, 9.7 rbg and 2.3 blocks a game. It's hard to believe that between 2006 and 2008, Yao averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds. Today that would put him in the top 10 in both categories. Just last week Yao said he felt ready to play and was just waiting on the green light from the Rockets. Even if he was going to come back, it would be hard to dominate when the Rockets limit him to 24 minutes a game. Sounds like the Rockets have been through this before with Tracy McGrady. He felt ready, he wanted to play and he received limited playing time and could never get into a rhythm. Regardless of how much the fans disagree, the Rockets seem like they know what they're doing. Now the Rockets collection of role players will have to play bigger than they really are.
If Yao does call it quit, it would be unbelievable. Every athlete, no matter their health, tries to push their body's limit. See Iverson, Marbury, Antoine Walker, Penny Hardaway, the list goes on. Only the smart ones can manage it. Yao is a smart guy but his biggest obstacle is himself. His size is the source of the problem. Yao is a humble dude but to give up on your dream and throw away talent at the young age of 30? That's unheard of. Imagine you gave up your favorite hobby before you can enjoy it to its fullest. Yao's never had an ego but now would be a good time to start. Get the surgeries, rehab, sit out a year or two, sign the minimum contract with the Rockets, get those fresh legs under you and prove to everybody you can still play for the love of the game. Or is it even worth it?