Ah, the plight of the NBA athlete in his post-career anxiety and restlessness. After a lifetime of honing and performing a highly specialized set of tasks (Box out for the rebound, pivot and fake. GET BUCKETS!!), Yao Ming is dealing with his retirement by joining the Shanghai branch of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
China Daily reports that at the tender age of 31, Yao is the youngest lingdao in the 142-member committee, and will “attend regular meetings, make suggestions or raise written proposals for the advisory body and government departments.”
As if owning the Shanghai Sharks, putting the nix on shark fin consumption, hawking his own wine and getting his bachelor’s at Shanghai Jiaotong University weren’t enough to keep the man from going stir crazy in his spacious Hongkou district apartment! Surely, a rap album can’t be far off.
Fortunately, we can rest assured that Yao won’t be the one giving the order in the future for a media blackout or a hasty protestor crackdown. The former Houston Rocket’s spokesman Zhang Chi denies that Yao seeks to launch a “political career”:
“The responsibilities for a CPPCC member include offering political consultation, and supervision. What Yao wants is to use his influence to do good deeds for society but not to seek a political position,” Zhang said.
Though the skeptic in us wants to believe that Yao will serve as little more than political arm candy for the Shanghai CPPCC, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment.
And in a sure sign that the 7-footer with the butter-soft touch around the rim would never be suitable for American politics, Yao has reportedly been doing little more than keeping quiet and listening during early sessions, due to his rookie political status:
“Raising proposals is very serious business, and I do not want to be hasty,” Yao said, adding that he is paying more attention to sports education, a field he is familiar with.
Zhang also said Yao is very interested in issues regarding sports and charity. “He will make proposals in future, of course,” said Zhang.
Rumored future proposals include greater budget allocation for reconstructive ankle surgery research, free arch supports for tall impoverished children, and increasing the minimum height for doorways in public spaces.
Yao joins a small group of players who decided that getting into politics was a decent way to spend one’s post-basketball time, moreso than coaching, TV commentating or sporting Hitler mustaches.
The list includes Kevin “Rocking Converse before it got cool again” Johnson (Mayor of Sacramento, California), Hall of Famer Dave Bing (Mayor of Detroit), and former Rhodes Scholar Bill Bradley (three-term Democratic Senator from New Jersey) .