The name of Yao Ming is a household name in the U.S.; citizens of Houston are proud that Yao plays for the Rockets. The 2.26 meter tall Chinese basketball legend is not only a source of pride for the Chinese, but is also a favorite of U.S. media coverage. However, the Rockets centre does not earn his fame through his height or skills, it is because he is unrivalled.
Yao Ming, is a business card for China
Many American used to be prejudice against the Chinese for being old-fashioned and backward. However, the 2.26-meter Chinese basketball player and his skills have left the Americans with a new kind of impression. His moderate and refined behavior make the Americans feel entirely different. Yang Jiechi, former Chinese ambassador to the U.S. has even nicknamed Yao "the non-governmental ambassador of Sino-U.S. diplomacy".
It is not doubted that Yao set a new image for the Chinese in the U.S during his stay with NBA, to all Americans; he became a "business card for China". There was no association with China in Houston Rockets before Yao joined the team. However, after Yao's arrival, the guards would greet the Asians in Chinese. On the occasions of major Chinese festivals, such as Spring Festival and Lantern Festival, some song and dance ensembles that were only familiar with Chinese communities in the past would be invited to perform in the Toyota centre. It is said that the details of Chinese culture represented by Yao have changed the opinion of a lot of American towards China, and meanwhile, left a Chinese impression with regards to the basketball that Americans love.
At every Houston Rockets home match, the cheer of thousands of audience will make people's blood boil. Local viewers will give a thumbs-up at the moment they see Chinese playing at the basketball court. "Yao Ming", "Thank you", they shouted with their awkward Chinese to express their deep feelings towards Yao.
Yao Ming, an oriental hero
The U.S. is a country that admires individual heroism. For them, Yao is an hundred percent oriental hero. A New York professor said that in his heart, Yao was not simply a smart, unbending, tall and handsome youth, but also a hero who practices self-discipline, team work and is kind. Yao reflects the connotations of oriental culture.
There are some super fans in Houston who lead their life with Yao at the centre. They go to cheer for their idol everywhere Yao goes. Liu Jie, a woman member of "Yao Ming club" and her husband even moved their home from Indianapolis to Houston. One room in her home is reserved for Yao, in which she put up many Yao's posters and images on the walls.
Yao has become one of the most amiable sportsmen so far in the U.S. His healthy image has also exerted influence upon many overseas Chinese. They encourage their children to be a person like Yao. Because of Yao Ming, many children of Chinese descendants are enthusiastic to learn Chinese, and their passion has also given impetus to U.S. youth in Chinese learning. During the seasons Yao plays, Houston Rockets can register a ticket sale increase of around US$ 20,000 more than usual. The profits from overseas Chinese in Houston alone can reach as much as US$ one million.
Zhao Haisheng, cultural attach�� with China's Consulate-General in Houston noted that Yao has boosted the sense of pride of Chinese and is also the pride of Asia. He said he has met many Koreans and Japanese, and they were also proud of having the same skin color, the same origin as well as the same culture and region as Yao.
Yao Ming, a cultural brand
As a matter of fact, Americans treat Yao with very simple altitude. They curse if Yao plays badly and applause if Yao plays well. At one match, several local girls held up posters on the stands that praised Yao's image and said they were willing to marry him.
For neither such praise nor censure has Yao ever changed himself to cater to Americans' taste. That may explain why the "Yao-style" humor enjoys great popularity in the U.S. The anchormen and anchorwomen with CNN have all praised Yao for his excellent performance even if Rockets do not play well.
A large number of Americans begin to understand the greatness of China through Yao; and it is also with Yao that they have begun to show interests in the mystery of ancient china. Some of them are even in love with China, and hope to visit China, do business and invest in China.
Once when Wang Jun, cultural consul of China's Consulate-General in Houston went to a local high school for teaching Chinese culture, he asked students where the Chinese capital was before class. Some answered Beijing, and some Hong Kong and Shanghai. But when he asked the students what they were most familiar with in China, the children replied in one voice "Yao Ming".
Les Alexander, president of Houston Rockets once said that Yao Ming would become the greatest star in sports history. From the perspective of the world, Yao's influence will go beyond the reach of Michael Jordan's, not only in the U.S., but also worldwide. "The reason why I said he would be the one with the greatest influence in sports history is that he has too many Chinese and even Asian supporters," explains Alexander.
By People's Daily Online