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The Next Jeremy Lin? Oak Hill Academy’s Chris Tang and the pressures of being the Great Yellow Hope

posted by KelvinZ

Chris Zihao Tang’s basketball story starts, of course, with Yao Ming. As a kid growing up in Jiangsu, a province on the eastern coast of China, just northwest of Shanghai, Tang obsessed over Yao and the Rockets, and, like all inspired young kids, went out to the local playgrounds to mimic the big man’s moves. Tang was always faster, taller, and more athletic than everyone else on the court, one of those prodigies who just pick up the game, almost through evolutionary directive. By the time he turned 8 years old, Chris Tang never went anywhere without a basketball, a habit that seemed curious to his parents, who at first asked their son to pursue other interests. He did not. “I watched basketball every day like it was my job,” Tang explained. “When I got out of school, I’d go straight to watching the Rockets on the Internet. My dad used to get mad at me because I would skip meals sometimes to watch the fourth quarter of a game, but I couldn’t stop. It was crazy just how much I loved to watch those guys play.”

Tang’s parents eventually grew to understand that their son had caught the basketball mania that infected so much of China in the early aughts. By the time he reached middle school, Chris had gotten good enough to be faced with a difficult choice — he could enter the labyrinthine Chinese national athletics program or he could try to find an alternate path to professional basketball. The choice rested on his parents’ desire for their child to live a life balanced between basketball and academics. The local club teams had already come around inquiring about Chris, meaning he had the choice to essentially turn professional at the age of 13…

via Oak Hill Academy's Chris Tang and the pressures of being the Great Yellow Hope – Grantland.


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