Yao Ming Arrives

Oct. 20, 2002 (Houston) - The Houston Rockets today introduced Yao Ming, the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, to the local media. A transcript of the event with Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, general manager Carroll Dawson, Yao and interpreter Colin Pine follows.

Dawson: “Thank you for being here. This has been a very exciting time. From the first time that Rudy and I were over there, we’ve had a great feeling about this. There’s been a lot of talk about the NBA going international. This kind of solidifies that. It’s been a great time since the nineteenth of May when we won the lottery. From the time we drafted this young man until we got him here today. This excitement that I’m feeling, even for my age, is tremendous. So it’s been a great day for the franchise, and I think there are many more great days to come.”

Tomjanovich: “I’m also very excited. This is a big day for the Houston Rockets. There was a process that we had to go through, but we stayed positive through it all. I would like to commend Michael Goldberg for doing a tremendous job. I got a chance to watch a lot of games of Yao
Ming. He is truly a gifted, talented player. Also, very young and still developing. He would be a college senior right now. My feelings about him are very strong. I feel that he will be a good NBA player, but he has a chance to be a great player. There’s a lot of talent there. What I did
get to find out about him by talking to some of the people, with the Shanghai Sharks and some of the other people that have been around him for a while, is that he is a good person. He’s a good guy to be around. He has leadership qualities, and he’s a guy that sets a fantastic image and
example for people. I think when you find a player that has talent and that type of personality, the combination is truly something. I feel that as Houstonians, we have a player that we can not only be proud of on the basketball court, but also in the community. That’s a good thing. I’d like
to welcome Yao Ming to Houston.”

Yao: (translator) “Thanks for being here. I know I’ve made everybody wait a long time, but I hope that everybody will think that it was worth the wait. I hope that through my hard work, that I can meet everybody’s expectations. And, that I can help the Rockets win more games.”

Q: How great is it for you to finally be here?

Yao: “After waiting such a long time, it’s like opening a door. It’s like having a breath of fresh air.”

Q: How important is it coming to Houston, knowing that it has such a strong Asian community? How will this play into helping make the adjustment for you and your family into Houston?

Yao: “The fact that there are so many Chinese people in Houston will make me feel more at home. It will help out a lot.”

Q: Between the World Games and the travel, how well do you feel physically? And how long will it take you to get on the court?

Yao: Of course, I’m a little bit tired from playing so much. But I’m ready to play whenever I'm called on. Whenever it’s time to go, I’ll be ready.”

Q: What kind of feelings are you going through now that you are here, and able to see the kind of reception you’ve received here? What are your emotions?

Yao: “Coming here to Houston is a new start and a new challenge. I’m excited so see everybody out here supporting me. It makes me feel great.”

Q: How will you understand Rudy in the huddle?

Yao: “The technical basketball terms shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”

Tomjanovich: “I talked to him when I was in China, and we went out on the floor and started talking about different stuff. We got into a pick and roll conversation and he said, ‘So Coach, you mean a pick and pop?’”

Q: Rudy, you have about nine days until the start of the season. In your opinion, when does Yao step on the court?

Tomjanovich: “I think it’s a day-to-day thing. We’ll see how he feels and how much we can get in. Physically, we have to see how he feels when he wakes up tomorrow. Nobody’s ever done this before that I know of. It’s not going to be easy. There are so many things that need to be learned.
But, there is just something about this man, that I feel he will adjust well. We have to understand that even the players that played in the US and have been here and gone through Summer League, and been in their towns working out with their guys, it’s a big jump to the NBA. And I’m sure he’s going to have to make adjustments too. We’re just going to take it day-by-day, and every day try to get him more accustomed. My gut feeling is, from what I’ve heard from his coaches and seen on my own, that everything will move along pretty well.”

Q: What was you first conversation like with your new teammates? And what is the first thing you want to tell them?

Yao: “The players are young, but much more mature than I had expected. I’d like to tell them that we should work hard together.”

Q: Yao, what other things are you looking forward to doing here in Houston?

Yao: “I’m playing golf tomorrow!”

Q: Rudy, how do you see communication working in practice? Will Colin (translator) be there?

Tomjanovich: “Yes. But, you have to understand something about basketball. We have our own language anyway. I can stand in front of the other team and talk Rockets basketball, and they wouldn’t understand what we are saying. We have hand signals and we have our own language.”

Q: How often did you get an opportunity in China to watch NBA basketball? And what were your impressions?

Yao: “In China, I get to watch at least two games a week, sometimes three. My impression is that the speed of the NBA game is very fast. Shooting is very accurate. I also think the people battle in the NBA.”

Dawson: “He told us that that he watched our Finals against the Knicks in ‘94, and he became a Rockets fan back then.”

Q: Rudy, is there some kind of pressure on the team now because of the new elements?

Tomjanovich: “There is always pressure. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to deal with those types of things. We try to come in and help our players get better everyday. The natural problems that come up over the course of a season dictate how you live. As you solve problems over the
year, you become a better tem at the end. That is sort of how it happened when we won the Championships. Even though those were veteran teams, it was still a process. Everybody is going to have their expectations. All the decisions that we make have been with the ultimate goal of winning the Championship. You stay positive and you make gains.”

Q: Yao, do you know any words in English?

Yao: “I saw a lot of people at the airport taking a lot of pictures. I’m so busy, because everybody wants to take a picture. But, I can’t be at two places at one time. I just wanted to say sorry to everybody. Sometimes I must go because I have duties.”

Q: How much do you look forward to facing Shaquille O’Neal?

Yao: “Every problem has to be faced. That’s going to be a very important game for me. I’m not going to be looking at it as a normal game. I’m going to look at it as a more important game.”

Q: How interested are you in learning the lifestyle and culture of the NBA?

Yao: “I’m very interested in learning about the NBA and the NBA lifestyle. I’m basically interested in learning anything that has to do with basketball.”

Q: How much do you expect him to contribute?

Tomjanovich: “I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. You’re going to have all types of different problems. I try to do the best I can, and they have a way of working themselves out. I don’t have any concrete expectations to see where we are. We’ll try to balance it out, so that we are not throwing everything to him at once. My coaches are going to have to help me out, because I’m anxious for this thing to work. I think with patience that everything is going to work out fine.”