Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 11:20 am  |  8 responses

SLAM #69

1.2 Billion served.

Originally published in SLAM 69

The 6th Man: They couldn’t be more different. Yao Ming, the 7-5, 22-year-old rookie center is steady and deliberate, performing his shockingly complete array of post moves with all the flair of an assembly-line robot. Some of this is due to it being his first year in a new country, some is due to his being exhausted from playing competitive basketball continuously for over a year, some is probably just due to his being a rookie. He still gets stripped sometimes, still makes some simple mistakes, but that will pass.

And then there’s Steve Francis, the 6-3, 26-year-old veteran point guard. Steve plays the game like he has a severe case of streetball Tourette’s (thanks, Ryan)—he can’t seem to dribble the ball more than three or four feet before compulsively going through his legs or behind his back, or putting a Rafer-esque skip in his step.

So different, but so similar. Don’t forget that Yao Ming’s stunning success in a new country comes in part because Steve Francis refused to go to one. (You remember Steve got drafted by Vancouver, right?) And while Yao appeared everywhere through the first half of his rookie season—TV commercials, nationally televised games, magazine covers—Steve was nowhere to be found. Funny, considering the one-time No. 2 pick, finally freed from the paralyzing headaches that plagued him all last season, was putting up MVP-type numbers. But the emergence of Yao seemed to cause a strange case of tunnel vision amongst basketball folk when it came to coverage. All this for a guy who may not even end up being Rookie of the Year.

It’s cool, though. If all those other publications want to focus on the big guy instead of the big picture, that’s their problem. After all, that’s why we’re here. And when the Rockets win a championship someday, when Yao Ming is the Last Real Center Alive, when the Dynasty becomes a reality, when the Franchise leads the franchise all the way to the rings, you can remember where you saw it first.


Russ Bengtson

P.S. A big, huge, 7-5 (or is he 7-6?) thanks to Team Yao and Nelson at the Rockets for all their help in getting this thing done.

Issue 69 Yao Francis

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Klav

    Those Houston retros > than the new Houston alternates.

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    this cover is still great. I wonder many people in China bought this…. amazing!

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Remembering this cover makes me realize just how much I miss this Duo. I wish T-mac never cried his way to be traded with Steve Francis.

  • Homie

    From a still bitter Grizzlies fan, F&*k Steve Francis. That is all.

  • Vegas

    The Dynasty and the franchise, a great duo, yet Mcgrady found a way to screw that up too…

  • Vegas

    The Dynasty and the franchise, a great duo, yet Mcgrady found a way to screw that up too…

  • S. Trotter

    I miss The Franchise …

  • http://morethanpractice.wordpress.com ja lawrence

    “Those Houston retros > than the new Houston alternates.” Indeed. I was hoping the new alternates would resemble the old schools more closely. Alas, no dice.