I want Yao to do well.
Even at the Olympics.
Especially when the Olympics are being held in his hometown. I mean, Yao is one of the top 2-3 athletes in all of China. That's a billion-plus built-in fans. Not bad!
My question for today, however, is whether I should cheer for Yao and his fellow Chinese basketball players. Yao's already made the game of basketball hugely popular in the Far Eastern Hemisphere... but what about those of us with vested interests in the Western Hemisphere?
I've already made my opinion clear that I am not convinced the U.S. Men's basketball team will runaway and win the gold easily. That said, I'm not exactly concerned about China being the team to stop them. Which means I don't really consider China to be "the competition" right now - which allows me to support Yao's team without any feelings of guilt. I mean, I like Yao a lot, but I'm American, dammit - and I have no problems chanting "U.S.A., U.S.A.!" when it matters.
Enough dawdling... the point I am trying to make today is this:
China plays a quarterfinal game tomorrow. China finished pool play 2-3 but now can compete for a bronze or silver medal. Yao has been playing a lot more than expected this summer (and let's not forget he's not exactly healthy). I love that Yao has been angry in defeat. Love it. But I also want Yao to be able to be angry when the Rockets lose (on those rare occasions).
So the question is:
(a) Do I root for Yao/China and hope the Chinese go as far as they can?
(b) Do I root for Yao/China to lose a close game tomorrow and immediately get Yao shipped back to Houston to prepare for the 2008/09 season?