04.25.07

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

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