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Yao Ming Charity Game Recap

July 28, 2010
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Shortly after dinner, I got a text from my friend Ed saying that Yao Ming’s charity game was on TV. The NBA team, which was comprised of a cast of seemingly random players, included Aaron Brooks, Chase Budinger, Hasheem Thabeet (introduced as something like “Ha-shee Sa-bit”), Brandon Jennings, Amir Johnson, DaJuan Summers, Aaron Brooks (introduced as “Aaron Booker”), Luke Babbitt, and late addition Jeremy Lin (who was personally invited by Yao).

My first thought was that all the players must share an agent, and a bit of research proved me [mostly] right. Yao, Thabeet, Jennings, Johnson, Budinger, and Baron Davis (who was supposed to have made the trip) are all signed with BDA, and Brooks and Lin’s invitations are easily explained as well. Summers and Babbitt? No idea.

The NBA team was playing against an All-Star team from the local league and the Shanghai Sharks, which is owned by Yao.

–From the horn, the NBA team runs away with the game and embarrasses the heck out of the All-Stars. The score after four minutes was something like 25-5, with a Thabeet reverse dunk followed by a Budinger breakaway windmill dunk followed by a badly-botched pass-to-myself-off-the-backboard dunk attempt by Jennings.

–Thabeet is looking/feeling cocky. Probably because this is the first time he’s feeling good on a court since college.

–For some reason, they have stupid contests during timeouts (making the timeouts last 10+ minutes). They hold a dunk contest during the first one. Even though the rims are significantly lower than NBA-regulation rims, the two local players put up the most weakass sauce dunks you’ve ever seen. Sad.

–The MC requests that Jeremy perform a dunk. He does. The crowd goes wild. Next, Yao gets the crowd to start chanting “Chase” (it sounds like “Jazz” to me) even though I doubt anyone knows who he is. Budinger wows the crowd with a Harold Miner between-the-legs dunk. The MC goes, “Thank you Jeremy!!!!”–completely ignoring Chase–to end the timeout.

–Why is there an Afghan woman sitting on the NBA team’s bench?

–The Chinese commentators start talking about how Jeremy, who, by the way, has been dressed in a jersey with his Chinese name on it, arrived at 5 a.m. today and then start conjecturing about whether he appears to be suffering from jet lag. Fascinating. Ed, meanwhile, can’t believe that Summers and Babbitt got invited.

–For whatever reason, the network decides to show commercials based on its own schedule with complete disregard for the game. During breaks, they shrink the game and send it off to the side of the screen while they blast stupid commercials. I’m severely annoyed. Text from Ed: “Oh god, this tv station is killing me.”

–Jennings is totally enjoying himself. He’s doing all the stuff that Scott Skiles won’t let him do, and blowing kisses at the crowd after a free throw. He misses on his second FT (on purpose?), sprints down the lane, and tries to slam it in but it’s yet another failed attempt.

–For whatever reason, they decide to have one of the local players do pushups at the next timeout. At least, that’s what I think he’s doing because he actually looks like he’s showing off his missionary position skills.

–The pushups are followed up by a celebrity free throw contest (a tech company is donating money for every FT made). Jay Chou, aka Kato in the new “Green Hornet,” is up first. His FTs are all jump shots and poor guy, he’s tired after about 8 shots. What follows is a lineup of alleged celebs (“alleged” because I don’t know who any of them are), including one guy that fails to make a single shot. Ed: “Tell me when this crap is over.”

–Halftime: 72-44.

–I was wrong. There are two Afghan women sitting with the NBA players.

–In the fourth quarter, one of the commentators references John Stockton while talking about Jennings and point guards. Yay. Ed: “Why doesn’t Lin do some DWill-like crossovers?” The answer, I think, is because not everyone can.

–Timeout: All-Star Game-style skills contest. Instead of those net containers for passes, the players are required to merely throw the ball towards the corner of the court. And instead of those NBA logo figures that players have to dribble around, they have actual kids (including one in a Cleveland LBJ jersey). The kids mess the players up by swiping at the ball. Ed: “Shoot me.”

–Back to play. Finally. Have I mentioned that the stupid timeouts seem to last longer than the quarters? Budinger slams it home off a Jennings off-the-backboard pass. The commentators are completely astounded and confounded that a white guy can jump that high.

–Lin steals the ball and dunks it with 15 seconds left. As far as the crowd is concerned, it’s a perfect end to the game. Final score: 137-103.

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