View Full Version : Yao hosts telethon

05-07-2003, 12:12 PM

May 7, 2003, 12:38AM

Yao to host telethon for SARS treatment
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
Forget competing with Shaquille O'Neal. Rockets center Yao Ming might be the next Jerry Lewis.

Yao's planned offseason departure from media attention will take a radical turn back to the spotlight this weekend when he hosts a live telethon in Shanghai, China, to benefit SARS treatment and research.

Like so much else about Yao's life as the center of attention, the event has become so enormous it has drawn the involvement of a who's who of NBA stars and -- depending on how many Chinese networks pick up the satellite feed -- could be made available to an estimated 1 billion viewers. It airs Sunday evening in China.

"I just feel that there is an obligation as a celebrity to repay society and lead the way for other Chinese basketball players to do more in the way of community service," Yao, 22, said through his cousin and agent, Erick Zhang, in Shanghai. "This is a great opportunity to do that and a great cause."

The cause was considered great enough that the three-hour broadcast will include videotaped messages from O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Dikembe Mutombo, Phil Jackson, Bill Walton, Magic Johnson, Kevin McHale and NBA commissioner David Stern.

Rockets guard Steve Francis, coach Rudy Tomjanovich and president George Postolos also taped messages.

After completing his video message, Francis made a $10,000 donation that was matched by Reebok.

"Steve Francis throughout the season and by donating this money to this cause has shown leadership at its highest level," Yao said. "I want to publicly acknowledge his support and appreciate his leadership."

Yao's representatives are working on involvement from a variety of celebrities in and out of basketball, and they have been in talks with representatives of former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.

Yao will have a co-host, but he will have a much larger role in the program than he ever has.

But that seems only right. The telethon was his idea.

"He's hosting it, producing it, you name it," Yao's marketing representative, Bill Sanders, said. "When he got home, he was blown away by the impact SARS has had. He got off the plane, and there was health screening at the airport, people in masks, people in chemical suits sterilizing everything. He said he wanted to do something about this, and this plan was devised."

Shanghai TV will televise the telethon and make it available via satellite to every Chinese television network. As of early Wednesday Shanghai time, there were firm commitments from networks that would make the telethon available to between 250 million and 300 million people in China.

Zhang said there are talks that could make it available to as many as 1 billion viewers, though the more likely estimates are that it will be available to 600 million viewers in China, with about 60 million watching.

NBA TV is also in talks about televising the telethon in some form.

The NBA and Upper Deck have provided a variety of signed memorabilia items from Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and other stars. The NBA also donated a pair of airline tickets from China to Houston for next season's Rockets season opener. Donations have also been made by Nike, Pepsi (Gatorade), Apple Computers and Avery-Denison (a consumer goods company).

Yao, who will report to the Chinese national team May 19, has been signing hundreds of shoes and other items to raise money during the telethon.

Though it might be premature to consider Yao and his Mother's Day telethon a successor to Jerry Lewis and his Labor Day tradition, Yao is at least off to a good start.

"He knows about it now," Zhang said of Lewis. "I made sure to tell him."

05-07-2003, 12:21 PM
woop di doo.

05-07-2003, 01:44 PM
He can because he has lot of time right now to do that.

05-07-2003, 02:22 PM
Maybe Vince Carter should join this effort to help his own diseased home of Toronto...

And I wonder if Yao is going to wear a mask while he is hosting it. I have already seen some folks wearing those things on business flights...

Television crew for the Yao Telethon?

05-07-2003, 02:47 PM
I for one salute him and Francis and the others for assisting in a world crisis. It's nice to see some NBA guys show a little heart (A lot of them do). Props to Ming and his Houston buddies.