The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball's Brightest Big Man

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9781583940907: The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball's Brightest Big Man

In this clever twist on the traditional sports biography, Chin focuses on the 7'5'' Yao Ming, the Chinese-born basketball star whose skills during his first year playing with the NBA's Houston Rockets were nothing short of remarkable. Chin (author of the graphic novel Nine of One) deftly weaves Yao's biography and the events of his first season as Houston's number-one draft pick with an explanation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching-along with numerous quotes from this venerable Chinese philosophical classic-as a way of explaining the phenomenon of a player who is "redefining how Asians could view themselves, as well as the image of the athlete in modern society." Chin is a skilled writer with an obvious love of basketball who provides compelling insights into Yao's skills, such as how his role as the linchpin for both the Rockets' offense and defense makes him, in a Taoist sense, the "anti-center": "Embodying the qualities of water, he is fluid as much as fixed." But Chin sometimes overreaches, such as in his view that "[b]y understanding the basic Taoist relationship between difficult and easy, Yao was able to draw upon Lao's timeless wisdom for comfort in the here and now." A player like Yao who signs a $200,000 endorsement deal with Nike can be seen as far more Western than Eastern, a point which Chin himself makes in other good observations about Houston's expanding Asian-American community and the remarkable media savvy that Yao has shown when dealing with NBA superstars like Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Oliver Chin uses the modern phenomenon of Yao Ming to illustrate the ancient wisdom of Taoism and Sun Tzu's THE ART OF WAR. By deftly bridging the cultures of East and West, by drawing inspiration from sports heroes, warriors and philosophers over thousands of years of history, THE TAO OF YAO transcends both time and space, highlighting universal principles of leadership essential to victory." -- Iris Chang, the New York Times bestselling author of the Rape of Nanking and The Chinese in America: A Narrative History.

"Basketball has known great, versatile centers but Yao, selfless and fundamentally sound, has the potential to write a whole new chapter. Chin's enlightening spin on the man who's at the forefront of the cultural changes happening in the NBA and the world is a slam dunk." - Bruce Jenkins, sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle

"Chin lends a unique perspective to the story of the NBA's most intriguing player. Yao Ming has turned the world of sports on its head in more ways than one." - Neil Hayes, sports columnist for the Contra Costa Times

"Yao Ming has the attitude - and altitude - to become an NBA great. Chin captures the personality of this special giant. "The Tao of Yao"...wow!" - Dave Newhouse, sports columnist for the Oakland Tribune

"Throw in his enormous size, and he's the most compelling NBA player since MJ in his prime, ‘Ripley's Believe It or Not’ crossed with Pete Newell's Big-Man Moves instructional video. When he's running the court, you can't take your eyes off Yao. I don't even feel that way about Shaq." —ESPN

"Just as he has changed the opinion of many who doubted him early, Yao has also altered the NBA's marketing approach in a fundamental way...He has become hugely popular here for his pleasant nature, unselfishness, work habits and humility." —The New York Times

"Millions of Chinese, young and old, basketball buffs and novices, are dodging work, skipping class and losing sleep to catch a glimpse of the towering, young Shanghai native who dunked his way out of this country's fledgling basketball league and onto the shimmering stage of the NBA as [the 2002] No. 1 draft pick." —Washington Post

"Being the first overall pick in the NBA draft doesn't necessarily guarantee individual stardom or even immediate team success. But [the 2002] top pick, Houston's Yao Ming, is having the kind of impact in his first season that could earmark the Rockets as a team of the future." —USA Today

"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

"Yao is the next step up the evolutionary ladder of big men in a game in which our perception of what is possible is always being tested, in which they long ago stopped pushing the envelope and broke right through it." —Houston Chronicle

"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about China's tallest ambassador is that he is possibly even more popular in the U.S. than he is at home...Yao's appeal transcends simple sports." —Time magazine, Asia edition

About the Author:

Oliver Chin has been a lifelong basketball fan, weekend warrior, and an aficionado of regional sports rivalries as he has lived in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Currently he resides with his wife Amy and son Lucas in San Francisco, CA.

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