With the opening Olympic tournament game against Team USA just around the corner, a less than fully recuperated Yao Ming finds himself sandwiched between angry fans on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Chinese fans blame the Rockets for the stress fracture Yao Ming sustained during this last NBA season, thus jeopardizing his upcoming performance and China’s chances to shine in the Olympic tournament. American fans hurl back that it is the year round obligations to the Chinese National team that have worn him out, and remind the Chinese exactly who is footing Yao Ming’s $15 million salary. Given the headache of dealing with pressure from both sides, it should come as no surprise when Yao stated that he would like this to be his final Olympic appearance.
“It will be my third,” he said. “I was a very young player and got my first taste of the Olympics in 2000 at Sydney. I played in Athens in 2004 and now this is my home country and the highest special honor in 2008. Enough, I think. Why would I need to play in London in 2012?”
Titan24 translates the original story from Houston Chronicle into Chinese for its readers, while shifting the focus away from the obligation Yao Ming feels towards his fans on both sides of the ocean, and concentrating more on the possibility of Yao bowing out in the future. They go as far as to caption the above photo of Yao on the bench, “Does Yao Ming really want to say goodbye to the China team?” The original Houston Chronicle article shows Yao in an infinitely more positive light, as a single person standing in the difficult position of trying to bridge the divide between Chinese and Americans, and who above all remains dedicated to the cause of supporting his homeland.
“For China, they have to understand that my loyalty to my country will never change. But now I have another group of people in America that I need to take care of. These people, the Chinese fans and American fans are not connected. They do not understand how each other think. I am the one who is connected. I am in the middle. That is the important goal of the Olympics, to bring different people together.”
Chinese fans are divided on whether or not when the time comes they will be understanding. Some plead Yao Ming’s case that at 32 years old he has already demonstrated his dedication to China long enough, others are more demanding saying that Yao cannot just call it quits because he feels satisfied with himself and what he has accomplished thus far. One particular sports writer for Sina, Liangxiyi, frequently criticizes Yao Ming (Chinese) for his attitude towards Chinese reporters and accuses Yao of letting fame go to his head.