Yao Ming is back in the news for reasons we've heard before, and that bothers me a little. As an aside, bear with me, because I think the following post is more for me than it is for you.
You have probably noticed that despite a sudden spike in Yao stories over the past few weeks -- once again featuring topics ranging from his health to his future -- the Great Wall's name has yet to pop up in these parts. That's no accident.
Sometimes, in covering one man, news can get old. Pedro Gomez meticulously followed Barry Bonds around for three seasons, detailing his every move, every home run and every response to every tedious question levied Bonds' way. In Bonds, Gomez had a story -- perhaps the biggest story in baseball -- ready no less than once a week for SportsCenter. These stories may have gotten old to the public, sure, but make no mistake, this was Bonds in his prime. Bonds required coverage. To not cover Bonds was to not cover baseball, especially during one of its most historically bizarre eras. These stories, believe it or not, each served a purpose.
By comparison, I place the recent string of Yao Ming stories on the completely opposite side of the fence. His sudden Google News binge has me considering a slightly different binge of my own. I hate these stories. They don't do anything for me, and as such, I don't feel the need to give them any attention. I get it: they serve a purpose for the uninformed and for the non-Rockets fan. Even you all may find them interesting.
As for me, personally, I couldn't care less.
Gee, Yao still has that ankle injury? What, Yao STILL isn't sure what he will do next season? Here, mainstream media, could you please hold this dunce hat while I fish through my backpack for a giant three-ring binder containing an additional, riveting five-hundred pages of Who Gives A $#!%?
Hmm. Deep breaths.
I can't blame the reporters, I guess. They're out getting stories and out getting traffic hits. That's fine; it's their job and it's how they make a living. I can't figure a culprit for this. It just sucks, plain and simple.
You know, I've never before brought fire to a Yao discussion. Every story I've ever written about Yao has been framed to be heartwarming or depressing, doused in either praise or sympathy. But I've never been mad about Yao. Sadly, I think I have gotten sick of him, sick of hearing about his supposed comeback when it's clear that he should have retired after this season.
Perhaps I would be more receptive to Yao news -- good or bad -- had I not already been down this road before. Or, better yet, had I not gone back down the same road only to u-turn yet again and continue my tour of the same asphalt that I stupidly thought could be more promising with each return visit. Here's a hint: it's the same old road, folks, and it winds up becoming the same depressing journey, each and every time. Also, never in my life have I sounded more like a twice-divorced, sixty-year-old Sex and the City screenwriter who lives by herself.
As time has passed, I've tried to forget about Yao Ming and have nearly succeeded. I've gone off and removed him, not from my memory but instead from my Interest Complex, if there is such a thing. I care for the Yao of the Past, but I don't have a clue why I should take any interest in the Yao of the Now. He's hurt, he's raising a family and he hasn't done jack squat for the Rockets since his glorious playoff performance in 2009, which was -- see if you can guess -- cut short due to injury.
What, am I not a fan of the Ming Dynasty? No, that's not it. You bet your ass I'm a fan. As stated before, none of this is Yao's fault. When asked, he answers questions truthfully and I respect and enjoy that. But for now, until contract negotiations begin and until the Rockets find themselves deciding if they should sign Yao, the player, or Yao, the marketing machine... I don't care.
Yao hasn't left, but let's not kid ourselves: Rockets news and Yao news are not of the same basket. They haven't been for some time. To me, that alone should indicate whether or not the franchise should choose to continue to cut him paychecks. But I'm only a fan.