- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

The interview process with Yao Ming involves an interpreter.

This results in an interesting series of exchanges.

Yao pontificates at length, as if he is spilling state secrets, whereupon the interpreter translates the long-winded answer into this: "He say he feel good."

Houston, we have a problem.

Timeout. You can say that again if you're Rudy Tomjanovich and you're trying to diagram the winning play in the huddle and the interpreter turns to Yao and says: "He say make good play."

He feel good. He make good play.

Note to Rudy T: Read fortune cookies with greater interest.

Yao is hardly a human highlights film, judging by what has been aired. This is the best tape China's government could find on Yao? The tape might as well be in black and white. You could splice the sequences in "Hoosiers" and not jar the audience.

See Yao start up the court. Go to the bathroom. Take out the trash. Talk to the neighbor. Return in time to see Yao navigate the final steps of the 94-foot journey.

Some NBA scouts have called this athletic. Others call it breathing. Confucius says he who hesitates is lost in the NBA.

"He does remind me of Rik Smits," Pacers president Donnie Walsh said.

Great. What does that say for the 56 players who followed Yao in the draft?

Some of the names are apt to remind you of the dishes you order at fancy restaurants. That's one Mladen Sekularac, sauteed, please, with Federico Kammerichs on the side.

The following is a public-service announcement to those impatient dreamers who believe everything they hear from their friends, hangers-on, posse, crew, entourage and other you-da-man types.

Carlos Boozer left Duke one year early to be the No.35 pick overall in the draft. News flash: Boozer is not the man. He is just another second-round pick who has a so-so chance to make an NBA roster. He spurned the warm cocoon of Duke for this? Question: On which agent's say-so? You don't say. Fire this person immediately.

Boozer was led to believe he was made of first-round material, one of a number of early-entry candidates who succumbed to the fool's gold.

No one must do the math. Let's go over the problem one more time.

There were 28 first-round selections in the draft, as opposed to 29, the result of Kevin McHale being invaded by a body snatcher who saw something in Joe Smith that no one else saw.

Anyway, there were 69 early-entry candidates, counting 14 international players. Twenty-eight divided by 69 is .406, which means a couple of things. There are lots of bad liars out there, the players are lousy in math, and Duke is going to be beatable next season.

Of the 28 first-round picks, there were 20 collegians, 13 of whom were early entries, six foreigners, one community-college player and one high school player.

A few seemed miffed by the inevitable ups and downs of the draft.

Caron Butler, still out of prison by way of UConn, slipped to No.10 in the draft and to the increasingly long face of Pat Riley. Butler was in the top five of several mock drafts. He must not have known that one of the definitions of mock is "just kidding." He did not appear to take the joke well.

"I felt I was one of the top players in the draft this year," Butler said. "I'm going to make them pay for passing on me."

As for the good news, Butler is going to a team with a player, Rod Strickland, who can relate to his background in criminal law.

Strickland poses the age-old question that perplexes us all: Do you know who I am?

In Strickland's case, he blows into the Breathalyzer; therefore, he is.

Qyntel Woods is said to have fallen asleep during a number of his pre-draft workouts and, consequently, fell to the FrankenBlazers at No.21. That qualifies as the maladjusted leading the maladjusted.

It just so happens Mike Dunleavy Sr. is one of the survivors of that mad concoction. His son was the No.3 pick overall in the draft, which proves the obvious. It is a lot easier to be a proud father than Rasheed Wallace's babysitter.

Enjoy the moment. The truth will emerge soon enough.

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