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When it comes to predictions, most basketball anoraks will stop at nothing...Yao Ming, late of the Shanghai Sharks, has become a presence, and could become the most dominant player in history.
- Sunday Herald, UK
The Tao of Yao:
Review by the Washington Post: Book World
The pursuit of athletic excellence, from the recruiting calls to the coach's office.
Reviewed by Sean Callahan
Sunday, January 11, 2004; Page BW08
The Tao of Hoops
Yao Ming's NBA rookie season in 2002-2003 was also transformed by the persistent presence of the media, both from the United States and from China, where Yao's countrymen followed the 7-foot-5 center's performance. In writing The Tao of Yao: Insights From Basketball's Brightest Big Man (Frog Ltd.; paperback, $13.95), Oliver Chin seemed to know that a sports biography about the now 23-year-old would lack narrative drive. Yao's Houston Rockets didn't mount a playoff drive, let alone win a championship. And by averaging 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his rookie season, Yao quickly dispelled any doubts about his abilities, showing that his large frame and athletic grace overcame whatever disadvantage there might have been in learning the game in a Shanghai gym rather than on a Brooklyn playground.
So Chin resorts to a gimmick in structuring his book. He uses Yao's handling of the media circus surrounding his rookie year to show how the basketball player embodies the Chinese philosophy of Taosim. It's been done before -- Benjamin Hoff wrote The Tao of Pooh, which playfully argued that Winnie-the-Pooh represented the Taoist ideal -- but Chin's book has its moments.
For Chin, water exemplifies Taosim. "Characterized by smoothly finding the path of least resistance, water is always in motion and adjusts to the environment," he explains. When Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was vilified after a TV interview in which he mocked the Chinese language by speaking gibberish, Yao, Chin argues, used Taoist principles by defusing the conflict with a wisecrack: "Chinese is hard to learn. Even when I was little, I took a long time to learn Chinese."