Rockets 2, Jazz 0 – and a funny, funny press conference

Posted in Basketball at 7:20 pm by Nicole

The Houston Rockets have made believers out of their fans – they did everything they needed to do in winning the first two games of their playoff series against the Utah Jazz – and with admittedly poor shooting and far too much reliance on free throws. Imagine what might start happening if the Rockets begin to shoot above 40%. :) The series moves to Salt Lake City tomorrow night, where the Jazz really have to put together two brilliant games to stay in this thing, because Houston’s fans are not going to give them anything when they’re playing at the Toyota Center.

There was a hilarious moment that didn’t make the papers from the post-game press conference Monday night. Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady had their press conference together, and at one point were both asked their thoughts on the performance of the other three starters for the Rockets, all of whom scored in double digits (Chuck Hayes, coming off the birth of his first child on Saturday morning, notched a double-double as well). T-Mac looked at Yao, who had been staring off into space, for his answer, and Yao said “Were you asking me? I thought you were just talking to her,” and he motioned at McGrady. That sent the press corps into peals of laughter, and T-Mac put on his best little-girl face and Yao and he gave each other a look…it was priceless.

What anyone who studies Chinese knows, of course, is that Yao’s error in pronouns is just about the most common error a native Chinese speaker will make when speaking English, because “he,” “she,” and “it” are said exactly the same way (“ta” with a first tone), even though they’re written differently (他,她,and 它, respectively). So Yao wasn’t dissing T-Mac’s masculinity…it was just a completely common and understandable speaking error, especially understandable in the pressure of a post-game press conference. (For what it’s worth, native English speakers get absolutely killed on Chinese grammar: the particle 了 – “le” – gives us fits. Well, at least it gives me fits. I could write for days about how hard it is to speak Chinese, and how excellent and expressive Yao Ming is in English…but it was just one of those sweet and funny moments that made me flash back to hours and hours of Chinese classes at the Princeton in Beijing program back in the summers of 2000 and 2001. Those were the days…)

Interested in seeing how the Salt Lake press is reading the Rockets-Jazz series? Check out the following links:

Deseret News: Yao’s presence is hampering Okur

Salt Lake Tribune: Jazz news home page

KSL-TV Salt Lake City: Jazz need offense – and quickly


Grant Hackett in Beijing

Posted in Swimming and Diving at 5:37 pm by Nicole

Australian swimming star Grant Hackett is in Beijing this week, touring the Olympic swimming facility, known as the “Water Cube” for its distinctive design. The Herald-Sun (Australia) reports that the 2008 Beijing Olympics may be Hackett’s last international competition.

Rockets 1, Jazz 0

Posted in Basketball at 1:26 pm by Nicole

The go-to place for Rockets news is and always has been the Houston Chronicle – beat reporter Jonathan Feigen is among the most knowledgeable basketball writers around:

Houston Chronicle – Rockets home page

Tonight it’s game two at the Toyota Center, an arena whose staff completely understands the concept of home-court advantage. The opening videos, the music, the announcer…these folks know how to put on a show. The Rockets had a tremendous come-from-behind victory in Game One of the first-round playoff series against Utah on Saturday night, and Game Two is on tap for tonight, 8:30 p.m. Central Time (9:30 a.m. Tuesday in China), from Houston. To be televised live in the United States (TNT) and China (CCTV-5).

The CCTV-5 schedule for tomorrow morning (Tuesday) – still only in Chinese – can be found here. (Minor rant: When are those folks going to realize that satellite television means that people in, say, Germany, want to watch, but can’t make heads or tails of the schedule since it’s only published in Chinese? Time for an English-language CCTV-5 broadcast schedule, O CCTV Powers That Be…)


NBA playoffs: Rockets-Jazz series starts tonight

Posted in Basketball at 4:49 am by Nicole

To quote a cheesy-but-classic American movie scene…the one where Superman is about to fight the bad guys from Krypton in Superman II:

“This is gonna be good!”

More tonight from the Toyota Center.


Golf: China Open under way

Posted in Golf at 5:35 am by Nicole

Local star Huang shares China lead (CNN.com)


Even more on the China Bowl cancellation

Posted in American football at 8:56 am by Nicole

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer offers their own version of events on the cancellation of the NFL China Bowl – the China-Seattle relationship is a strong one (it was Hu Jintao’s first stop on his U.S. tour last year) and for Seattle and the Seahawks, who were to have played the Patriots in the exhibition game, this cancellation was a supreme disappointment. One caution on this article: it was always my understanding that the China Bowl was to have been played at Workers’ Stadium, which is right on the edge of Beijing’s central business district, and not the new National Stadium in north Beijing, which is still under construction. As far back as the Chinese had ever been hearing about the game, it was understood that National Stadium wouldn’t be ready to host this game by August 2007. This article makes it sound as though the game was postponed in part because National Stadium wasn’t ready, which doesn’t resonate with what I’ve heard previously. Just a thought.


More on the NFL and the China Bowl

Posted in American football at 5:51 pm by Nicole

USA Today offers this analysis of the cancellation of the China Bowl NFL exhibition.

Phelps to tour China

Posted in Swimming and Diving at 5:38 pm by Nicole

Michael Phelps, coming off a stunning performance at the world swimming championships in Melbourne, will be touring China this coming week as a member of the Visa Gold Medal Athlete Team. The Detroit Free Press has the story.

Shen and Zhao update

Posted in Figure Skating at 4:54 am by Nicole

Vancouver 2010? Maybe. A wedding? Yes, definitely.

This is a little bit of old news – the announcement came after they won the world championship in pairs figure skating in Japan last month – but the China Daily just published a nice story on Shen and Zhao’s engagement.

Pair finds love after life on ice


It’s official

Posted in News at 8:57 am by Nicole

China Bowl postponed until 2009.

NFL calls off China exhibition game (SI.com via the Associated Press)

A link to all of the news stories on news.google.com about the China Bowl cancellation

The article linked below was published before the news of the China Bowl cancellation but offers a great perspective – with lots of detail – on how the NFL is starting to introduce American football into youth culture in mainland China. Trivial Pursuit tidbit: the Mandarin Chinese term for American football is 橄榄球, “ganlanqiu,” or “olive ball” – but beware, rugby is known by the same name in Chinese.

Finding footing on China’s playgrounds (Delaware Online, via the Associated Press)

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