Yao Ming on Broadway
I went out to dinner tonight with the wife and ended up shaking hands with Yao Ming. We ate at Sauce Box on Broadway and Yao was standing outside the Benson. My wife just said, "Look, there's a basketball player," and I guess that was a fair assumption. If not it was some other guy 7 and a half feet tall, wearing a blue warm-up suit and signing autographs.
Think of how famous this athlete is worldwide. Of course, if you're a big hit in China, that automatically gives you some unbelievable numbers. For example, the Chinese version of American Idol gets a TV audience of 400 million. Compared to that, Simon Cowell might as well be on cable access.
I have met some tall people before. Once Manute Bol walked by me, and I also waited on Bill Walton back in the day. But the biggest person I ever saw was in the Hilton lobby restaurant. A normal man was sitting next to him, and the normal man looked like a child. This was Andre the Giant. He was 7'4" and 500 pounds. That is a nightmare for any buffet line.
Most other tall people have been just lengthy. Andre the Giant was massive - his skull was as big as a baby elephant's. Of course Andre was a wrestler - he was too lumbering to make it in the NBA. His turnaround jump shot would have taken longer than 24 seconds, so what was the point?
I wondered what I should say to Yao Ming as I shook hands with him. I suppose the lamest thing would have been, "How's the weather up there?" in Chinese. I did realize the language barrier and I also wanted to say something welcoming as an American to a guest here in this country. It all got jumbled up and I just said, "I appreciate you." Oh well, I'm sure the Chinese have a word for "dorky."