Chicago, May 2, 2002 -- NBA prospect Yao Ming, a 7-5 center from China, was put through a vigorous hour-long workout for teams on Wednesday at Loyola University in Chicago. The workout was attended by representatives from 26 NBA teams and over 150 media members.


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Afterward, Yao issued a statement regarding the workout and his future in the NBA. Following is the complete text:


Yao towers over Bill Walton.
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“It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA ever since the first time I saw a game on TV many years ago. To almost touch that dream today fills me with a sense of joy that words simply cannot describe.

“I am humbled and grateful for the unforgettable experience of the past few days. I would like first to thank NBA for hosting this event in the great city of Chicago. The superb organization demonstrates a level of professionalism that I truly admire.

“I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to all NBA teams for showing interest in me. I am honored by your presence. And I hope I have not disappointed you with my performance today.

“Proper credits is also due to the members of media. The game of Cat’n’Mouse is stressful, but your resourcefulness and work ethic are something I think we players should emulate. Journalism is a profession I respect a great deal. Just give me some time to warm up. I look forward to taking each and every one of you to dinner sometimes in the future. But the check is on you if your reporting makes me look bad.

“Last but certainly not the least, I owe the greatest debt of gratitude to the fans of basketball everywhere. You gave me the greatest job on earth. And I promise to repay your trust by respecting the game, and by challenging myself to be the best that I can be.

“Let the good time roll!”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT YAO MING:

STU JACKSON, NBA Vice President, Basketball Operations:
“I think his strengths are certainly obvious. He obviously shoots the ball extremely well and has some passing skills. He can put the ball on the floor for a guy his size, one or two dribbles either way. He runs extremely well, so he’s got a lot of potential … I do think he has the potential to be a franchise-level player.”

JERRY WEST, Memphis Grizzlies President, Basketball Operations:
“I don’t think it is a roll of the dice. He will be a player in the NBA. His size alone is unique, his shooting skill is unique. I think the things he can do as a big player, the coaches will like that. Everyone is looking for a center, so I think that will make him even more valuable.”

DON CHANEY, New York Knicks Head Coach:
“I think he really enjoys the game and to me that’s what’s really important … a player who really enjoys the game and understands the team concept and one who wants to win, and I think he really wants to win from our conversation.”