There are other examples [of how small the world is becoming]. In South Korea last summer, hundreds of Chinese men and women (bankers, brokers, even a fashion journalist) traveled to China's first game in a World Cup. They wore the latest clothing and chatted on cellphones.
"I've had seven cellphones already myself," Yao said Friday. "China is changing and developing at a rapid pace. All I can say is that I hope my development as a basketball player can match that. While China learns more about the world, I hope that the world will also learn more about China."
And while the Rookie of the Year award is already engraved with Yao's name, he doesn't deserve to win it. At 20, Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire is a far more advanced player. His ferocious dunks make the ESPN highlights, but it's his spacing and non-stop movement that make him so hard to guard. Yao found this out first-hand Wednesday when Stoudemire dropped 24 points and 13 rebounds on the Rockets, including an in-your-face dunk on big man; Yao settled for a quiet 11 points and seven boards. If only Stoudemire could sell mobile phones to 1.2 billion Chinese, he'd have a shot at beating Yao for the year-end hardware.
(An earlier NYTimes piece on Yao Ming, last December, noted that when his games are broadcast in China, the viewing audience could be larger than the entire population of the United States.)