Tiger Woods thinks he has it tough?
Please. Nike's philandering pitchman should try to be Yao Ming for a day. Yao does everything right and he still finds himself embroiled in controversies that cross continents and cultures.
Chinese basketball officials and fans have found a new obsession with Yao Ming, a new reason to be anxious, a new thing to hound him about: His unborn child. The news that Yao Ming and his pregnant wife Ye Li have returned to the United States has set off a near furor in China, with fans worried that Yao's baby could end up being an American citizen.
Online sites for Chinese basketball fans are calling the move, a potential "betrayal" - with the worry being that the Chinese National Team could be deprived of a future basketball superstar if Baby Yao ends up with a U.S. birth certificate.
Yes, Chinese basketball fans have already penciled Baby Yao in for a lifetime of servitude for the national team. Forget the fact that the kid hasn't even been born yet. And you thought those college coaches who recruit grade schoolers are jumping the gun?
Sure, Yao is 7-foot-5 and Ye - a former Chinese basketball player herself - is 6-foot-2. But what if the kid just wants to play clarinet?
The birthplace is even more of an issue because China does not recognize duel citizenships like many other countries do. Though, you'd think that China might make an exception for Baby Yao no matter where his offspring pops out - and that could be in Houston. The baby isn't due until early summer.
It'd be understandable for Yao to be miffed at all the talk about his unborn child and a possible betrayal. This is an athlete who's played for China's National Team in every big event possible, an athlete who's sacrificed his body for his country.
Plenty of NBA observers and officials are convinced that Yao wouldn't be hurt as often as he is with the Houston Rockets (and he's out for this entire season) if he played less for China. Former Rockets coach and current ABC commentator Jeff Van Gundy has long argued that Yao's inordinate sense of responsibility to his homeland has cost the center severely.
Now, Chinese basketball fans are telling that loyal solider where his wife needs to give birth.
Still, Yao's keeping to his good guy ways and keeping any anger private.
“It's just between me and my wife,” Yao said in a statement. “We're excited about the new member of our family. We appreciate everyone's good wishes. Everyone, thanks for that. I think we just need some space."
Good luck with that.