Happiness is waking up in a Hong Kong hotel, tuning the television to Pearl TV at 9:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday, and getting Game 6 of the Celtics-Lakers final live via NBA TV. Good stuff. As I write it's 20-18 Boston with 2:08 to go in the first. What I'd give to be in mainland China during this game, though, where the NBA is very, very big time. Two years ago at the end of my first semester of teaching university classes in Guangdong province, I walked into the computer lab at the school around 10 a.m. one day to find students glued to their screens. All of them were watching a live feed of the NBA Finals. That's basketball in the new China for you.
In other basketball news, John Huizinga, Yao Ming's U.S.-based business manager, is quoted in this morning's South China Morning Post in an AP report (also at SI.com) disputing news reported yesterday that Yao would definitely be available to play in the Stankovic Cup with Team China from July 17-20. Prognosis good, Huizinga said, but the timetable for Yao's return is still far from assured. For more on Yao, check out the Houston Chronicle's piece on Yao's prognosis by longtime Rockets beat reporter Jonathan Feigen.
Whatever happens with that pre-Olympic warmup tournament, all of China is poised to cheer Yao when he takes the court with the Olympic team in their first match against the U.S. on August 10. That will be the hottest ticket, bar none, of Day 3 of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, and SI will be there for you reporting all the action.
More dispatches from Hong Kong, where we're tracking pre-Olympic preparations, to come all week here at the Beijing Olympics Blog.