Basketball legend Yao Ming has reportedly made an appearance in Dunedin. This continues a run of international sports stars making their way to the South Island, after golfer Bubba Watson tested out a new flying golf cart in the Canterbury region.
According to a Facebook post Yao Ming was at the Dunedin Railway station and posed for a photo with railway staff.
Since his retirement in 2011 Ming has kept himself busy, recently writing a heartwarming and eye-opening account of his rookie year with the NBA's Houston Rockets for The Players' Tribune, in which he documented just how much of a culture clash crossing the globe entails. He left China with his friends calling him "Ming"; he arrived in the United States as "Yao."
In China, Ming writes, the family name precedes the given name.
The U.S. audience glossed over this fact, as well as the entire Rockets organisation. They had a new, 7-foot-6 superstar for whom they desperately tried to adapt - Ming says the Rockets hired a Chinese professor to teach the team about the culture - yet his name, of all things, was lost in translation.
"Once everyone started saying it that way, I never corrected them," Ming writes. "I was too shy."
With a new name came a new life, though, and things got better for the Hall of Fame elect.
He writes about how an amiable Steve Francis took him under his wing and into his Hummer - "Hammer?" a confused Ming asked at the time - and helped bring Ming out of his shell. The two bonded with a 20-minute car ride, Ming's limited English balanced by The Franchise pushing through with NBA lessons ("Be aggressive") and digging into the personal - both were dating high school girlfriends.
"I learned a lot in those 20 minutes in Steve's Hummer," Ming writes. "I will always respect that he took interest in me and welcomed me. When he got traded to Orlando, I missed him a lot. He was a good teammate and a good friend, and he was one of the reasons I felt at home in Houston my first year."
Even with a different name.
- with news.com.au