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Yao Ming squares off with Vince Carter in Beijing.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) - The Toronto Raptors' Vince Carter said Wednesday Yao Ming will be successful in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Carter, a two-time All-Star leading vote-getter, played a 2-on-2 halfcourt game against Yao and two small kids during a Nike Asian trip at the stadium of the Chinese National Training Administration. The future NBA rivals intentionally avoided any contest between them, letting their teammates run and make all the baskets. "This is my first time to China. I feel the atmosphere of the 2008 Olympic Games. I will be here in 2008, I hope," Carter said.

"He's going to be successful because he is tall, and he has skills," Carter said of Yao in an afternoon interview with the Chinese media. The 7-6 Yao, who was selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft, is waiting for the final permission of his club, the Shanghai Sharks, and the Chinese Basketball Administration. "If you give me 3-4 weeks to see how he plays, and how he adjusts, I can tell you how good he's going to be," Carter said. "There are a lot of international players in the NBA, and a lot of them struggled at first. Yao's going to find some good times and some bad times in the NBA."

Carter recalled his feelings when he first met Yao at an international match in Japan. "I said to myself (when I first saw him), 'He's tall. I'm going to dunk over him,' " Carter joked. "But now I don't want to." Carter said Yao needs to get stronger to be a force in the NBA.

"He deserves all the accolades he's received," Carter said. "The only thing I think for him is to get stronger. He'll find a lot of guys in the NBA right now who are stronger than him."

Carter will fly to Hong Kong on Wednesday morning and travel to Chinese Taipei to conclude his Asian trip.