By Joseph Yeh
2010-07-27 10:03 AM
Yao, the Houston Rockets' 223-centimeter center who was the first Chinese player in the NBA, arrived in Taipei yesterday afternoon around two for a charity game as part of his Yao Foundation Charity Tour to begin tomorrow.
Immediately after his arrival, Yao hopped onto the High Speed Rail heading to southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung City to teach children there who were affected by Typhoon Morakot last August.
"I am very glad to be here. Hopefully I can do something for the children in need here," Yao said.
This will mark Yao's fourth visit to Taiwan and his second time since joining the NBA. His previous two visits as an NBA player were also for charity reasons.
Yao will not play in tomorrow's night game at Taipei Arena, however, because of an injury to his right foot.
Prior to the Houston giant's arrival, a total of six NBA players who will be joining Yao in the game also arrived at Taoyuan Airport.
They are a pair of Yao's Houston teammates - Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger, plus Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hasheem Thabeet of the Memphis Grizzlies, DaJuan Summers of the Detroit Pistons, and Amir Johnson of the Toronto Raptors.
Eight players from Taiwan's semi pro league Super Basketball League and popular singer Jay Chou, will also be involved in the charity event, together with fourteen players from the Shanghai Sharks, a team owned by Yao in China's professional league.
Following in Yao's footsteps came Howard, the star center of the Orlando Magic who is widely regarded for his superman dunks.
The Magic center, who just won his second straight NBA defensive player of the year award, was here for a separate event.
He is scheduled to meet with 15 children sponsored by World Vision Taiwan today. These children are either from economically disadvantaged families or from families facing emergency situations, and all are fans of Howard.
The four-time All-Star will also select a total of six children aged 7-12 in a basketball training camp for a special prize.
The selected ones will play two games with teams from China in August for a free trip to the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
It will be the first time Howard has met fans in Taiwan since his last visit in 2005 after his rookie year in the NBA.