Yao Ming slams China ‘slackers’ after Asian Games basketball flop
Basketball great Yao Ming branded China’s team “slackers” and warned they will struggle to qualify for future Olympics because of the “huge gap” with the world’s best.
The eight-time NBA All-Star, now president of the Chinese Basketball Association, slammed China’s performance after it lost to the Philippines in the semi-finals of its home Asian Games in Hangzhou.
The Chinese settled for bronze after defeating Taiwan on Friday, but it was far less than fans and Yao wanted.
China also flopped at last month’s Fiba World Cup, missing out on a qualifying spot at next year’s Paris Olympics after losing four of their five games.
Yao said China found it “hard to adjust quickly” after their World Cup disappointment but warned the team would have to face reality.
“There are two types of slacking — one is the indisciplined kind and the other is wanting to eat your opponent in just one bite,” he told Xinhua news agency.
“This is also a type of slacking.”
China lost to Serbia, South Sudan, Puerto Rico and hosted Philippines at the World Cup and missed out on a place in the final qualifying tournament for Paris.
Yao said wholesale reform would be needed for China to qualify for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
“We have to conduct a major operation — this is not something that small tweaks will achieve,” he said.
“From the make-up of the national team to league reform, this is a major operation covering the entire basketball community.”
Yao, who starred for the Houston Rockets from 2002 to 2011, said other countries were “progressing very fast”, noting that regional rivals Japan had qualified for Paris.
He said China needed “an open platform” to discuss their shortcomings but warned that the road ahead will not be easy.
“The pain comes from the huge gap between China’s basketball and world basketball,” he said.