Today’s Love: The First Draft of Yao Ming’s Retirement Speech

Poet Giles Li takes a moment to point out the under appreciated aspects of the basketball great's game, and how it's influenced the Asian American community.

By Noelle de la Paz Sep 29, 2011

Giles Li, a Boston-based spoken word artist and leader in the Asian American community, recently put out a video for his piece, "First Draft of Yao Ming’s Retirement Speech."

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 10 years, you’ve seen Yao Ming. The seven-and-a-half-foot-tall Houston Rockets star from China turned the short, un-athletic Asian male stereotype on its head, dunk after dunk. Yet while he was a looming physical presence on the court, his voice was nowhere to be found. Folks have tried to blame that on a number of seemingly reasonable causes: the language or cultural barriers, to name a couple. But Li’s piece gets at the undercurrent of Ming’s silence, namely the assumption that the star was too soft and nice to truly be heard in the first place.

The video features young Asian American men and women spinning basketballs, donning button-ups, neckties, jeans, t-shirts and jerseys, to symbolize what an inspiration Yao’s been to countless observers.

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