Yao Ming is deaf in his left ear, guys. Raise your hand if you knew that, because I certainly did not.
Here's what he told Graham Bensinger about his issue, which he apparently discovered at age eight:
Yao: Then I have my one ear. I cannot hear from my left side. But I'm living well. I'm living way better than well right now, so that's fine.
Bensinger: How has that impacted you over the years?
Yao: Not many, not many. I can still clearly hear from my right side. If I'm ever at dinner or at a meeting I try to sit on the left side of the table so everyone is on my right side.
Yao goes on to say that he seriously considered retiring after he got hurt in 2009 and yada yada yada. Whatever.
The greatest trick the Yao Ming ever pulled was convincing the world his deafness did not exist. It could literally pass for a magic trick: Yao enters the league, plays above expectations, develops into a premier center and then suddenly *POOF* he was partially deaf the whole time. Someone grab the confetti, or chase after Verbal Kint.
I'm not kidding about the magic part, either. Nobody got the word out. One guy wrote about it. One guy.
Hang your head, Hasheem Thabeet. You've got two solid, yet unspectacular ears. This pushes your putrid hand-eye coordination to the highest pinnacles of embarrassment.
Think of all the reasons for needing two ears in the NBA. Defensive rotation calls. Instructions from the bench. General team chemistry. It's all there. If you want to make sure five players from all sorts of different backgrounds are on the same page, you need to communicate effectively.
Yao didn't just hold his own defensively: he was perhaps the most important part of Houston's defensive renaissance in the 2000s. Being 7-foot-6 helped, sure, but this latest documentation of The Ming Dynasty truly puts his talent and attention to detail in perspective.