Yao and the Chinese National Team lost to Lithuania 94-68, in a crushing defeat. Lithuania is clearly a top 4 team, and China is clearly not. This loss makes the loss to Spain, blowing a 20 point lead (14 in the 4th) , and the complete lay down to Greece hurt even more for the Chinese. Without those losses they could have finished as high as 6th, even with a loss to Argentina (which would have beaten them as bad, if not worse than Lithuania).
I want to be sad for Yao about the loss, but honestly, I'm too giddy about the fact that he's not going to have to play anymore non-NBA games before the start of the season. I was absolutely cheering for Yao to win the silver, or bronze if Luis Scola won the silver, but I'm not going to pretend that I'm sad that they are out.
I found something interesting in Fran Blinebury's article about the loss:
Yao said before the start of the Games that he did not want to play in the 2012
Olympics in London and would like to cut back his involvement with the Chinese
national team to rest his body for the NBA.
I'm not going to pretend like I saw that anywhere else, I didn't. And it's news that is wonderful for Rockets fans. It's even great news to fans from China. While it is arguable that any Yao playing for China in the Olympics held there was more important to the country than a healthy Yao playing in the NBA, it is not arguable that a healthy NBA Yao is worth infinitely more to the country than any Yao playing in National Team competitions and the Olympics in London. I am absolutely a country first guy, I'd trade a Rockets championship in an Olympic year for the gold medal as a team. I want to own the world in every sport, be it basketball or synchronized swimming or shooting or hell even the freaking trampoline. I love this country, and with my grandmother leaving Russia during the revolution, and then having her family move to China, and then eventually meeting a bad ass American Soldier and coming here, I know how important and great this country is. I care more about the US and even Texas than I do about 1 NBA championship. That being said, I love the Rockets and always want a championship given I don't have to give it up for something else. And a Rockets championship with Yao as the dominant superstar would do amazing things for China, things that finishing 4th or lower at the Olympics would never do. If they had a realistic chance to medal, and they unequivocally do not, I'd change my tune. However, can you imagine the profile a Chinese born player would have if he stood on top of the American basketball world? It would be something that not even Tiger Woods in America could touch. He is already the biggest thing in China, but he would transcend generations. He would be the reason China eventually finds 12 guys in the country that can compete for a medal on the World level. That alone would be worth him not playing in the 2012 Olympics. And here's the thing, I don't believe he will have to (or even will for that matter) sit out the Olympics. He can still play in them and not play in any other events. While the US National team had to check their egos at the door and learn how to play with each other, Yao doesn't have to do that. He is the ultimate team player. He doesn't need to play any different than he does in the NBA night in and night out, so his adjustment time to another team would be significantly shortened.
Now it's time to get down to business. With Artest in the fold, some more minor trades to come and McGrady talking like he's willing to be his old self again, I need some more of this: