You can do that sort of thing when you don’t have anybody setting up down in the lane.*Now Clyde appeared to be just making another passing observation in his role as color commentator---maybe he was remarking on the necessity of the Rockets having to resort to that sort of thing---but the Glide said it so often, and with several different variations (“When you don’t have anybody, etc. ….”), and with such a gleeful charge in his mellow-fellow voice, that we assumed he was suggesting what he’s too damn nice to come out and say:
“The Rockets move the ball a hell of a lot better without the lead-footed Yao bumping in and out of the paint, all the time waving his big greedy hand and clogging up the middle … and that opening up of the court allows the full genius of T. McGrady to flower … ”Something like that.
You’d never hear a remotely similar suggestion from the local sportswriting clergy, who, in their effort to offer neat little sermons of uplift through sport, attribute the post-Yao continuation of the team’s win streak---6 since the ever-fragile Chinaman went down for the count (again), 18 altogether, as of this writing---to the grit, tenacity, determination, “heart,” what have you, that the remaining Rockets have shown during the big stiff’s absence. But let’s face it: They looked to be playing better with Carl Landry on the court---Carl Landry!---before Yao managed to rack up another lost season.
We understand the sporting press digs Yao because he’s accessible, he’s humble, he’s hard-working, and, as former Houston Chronicle sports hack Mickey Herskowitz approvingly noted 4-5 years ago in what was even then a weirdly dated and race-conscious observation, he doesn’t wear those big gold chains around his neck, etc.** And yes, he was having a banner All-Star year, stats-wise, but is it possible the team’s on-court chemistry is enhanced by his absence? Yes, it is possible. And we're pretty sure that Clyde would concur, in so many words.
*It helped that the Rockets were knocking down 3s the way that Roger Clemens used to knock back Vioxx-as-Skittles.
**We like Yao, too, and we write as a someone who once made the near-fatal mistake of dining at his parents’ eatery (is it still open?).