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Wild Wednesday LEEInks

07.08.09 at 9:46 am ET
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Good morning New England! Today the LEEInks will take you on a tour across the wide world of sports.

The Red Sox enjoyed a nice win against the Athletics last night — they  were powered by yet another more-than-effective start from All-Star Josh Beckett.

Early season struggles non-withstanding, could this season be Beckett’s best? WEEI.com’s own Alex Speier speculates that very point and even dishes out four more lessons today.

In other baseball news, Manny Ramirez returned to the East Coast for the first time since his coming back from a 50-game suspension. Mets fans at Citi Field made sure Ramirez recieved a “warm” welcome back to the diamond, while Manny did his part to get ejected in the fifth inning of an 8-0 Dodger win over the M*A*S*H unit-Mets.

Manny had a little bit to say about his ejection after tossing his elbow in the vicinity home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. “I didn’t want to throw even more fire, I just walked away. I only play five innings, so I was leaving anyway,” Ramirez joked.

The New York area papers however haven’t been as kind to Ramirez as the hometown L.A. Times.  John Harper of the Daily News and the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch each filed columns today dripping with disdain for Ramirez’s antics.

Moving onto a far more dour subject, more and more details are brought to light in the increasingly bizarre case surrounding former NFL star quarteback Steve McNair. The Tennessee Titans announced  they will hold a two-day memorial opportunity for fans to pay their respects to the fallen star.

The events of the weekend occured a little over a year and half after the tragic death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. David Climer of the Tennessean preaches of the very hard lesson that players like McNair should’ve learned of the company one keeps.

Finally, today the LEEInks would like to remind you to catch ESPN’s MyWish Series all this week. Of course, the LEEInks dutifully recommends viewing these pieces with more than enough Kleenex.

Our own Big Papi, David Ortiz was a part of the series in 2007 when he helped young Stephan Zepeda’s wish a reality.

Stay Classy, New England! Make sure you enjoy a beautifully sunny summer day!

A LEEInks Look At Recent Sports Drubbings

07.07.09 at 1:29 pm ET
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Last night, the Cincinnati Reds found themselves on the recieving end of a 22-1 City of Brotherly Love beatdown at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies. Clearly this isn’t your father’s Big Red Machine.

If this was Little League baseball, we’d have seen the Mercy Rule early on in last night’s game. For Little Leaguers, the rule kicks into effect if a team is ahead by 17 runs after five innings.

Poor Johnny Cueto. He came into the game with a 2.86 ERA, lasted a mere two-thirds of an inning, giving up nine runs in such a brief time at Citizen’s Bank Park. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Ray Parillo saw the carnage unfold and detailed this report.

Things got bad enough for the Reds that infielder Paul Janish took to the mound in the home half of the ninth. Janish served up a grand slam to Jayson Werth, which effectively bumped his career ERA to 49.50.

The LEEInks got to thinking of other recent sports beatdowns, and there’s quite a long list. Today, we aim to take you from the diamond, to the ice, to hardwood and back to the diamond again.

Back in September, the Bulgarian women’s hockey team took to the ice against Slovakia for what was supposed to be an Olympic qualifier. When the Bulgarians stepped off the ice, they left the rink with an 82-0 loss. A dozen players had hat tricks for Slovakia in the contest. Maria Herichova potted 18 goals of her own that evening.

When things get out of reach, most hockey teams pull the starting netminder for a backup. Bulgaria still thought they had a chance in the waning minutes trailing 77-0 until their second-string goalie came in.

Be sure to keep up with the group as a we move off of the ice in Europe and onto the hardwood, deep in the heart of of Texas. This past winter, girls high school basketball powerhouse Covenant School lambasted their much weaker opponent Dallas Academy100-0.

This story became a huge national story and led to Covenant coach Micah Grimes’s firing as head coach of the team. Fellow member of the coaching community, Jim Thompson blogged that there really wasn’t a winner in this game.

Finally, moving back onto the diamond, and two years ago, the Texas Rangers pulled off the biggest baseball beatdown in American League history. The Rangers defeated the Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007.

The Rangers racked up 29 hits and even saw Wes Littleton garner a save after tossing three innings of shutout ball. The 3o runs put up by the Rangers were the most by any major league team since the Chicago Colts routed Louisville 36-7 on June 28, 1897.

So, New England, when it feels like our Red Sox have been taken to the shed in a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the unheralded Brett Anderson and the Oakland Athletics, just think, it could be much, much worse. Just ask Reds fans in the Queen city and they’ll tell you about last night’s game.

Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Jayson Werth, Johnny Cueto, Philadelphia Phillies

Welcome back Nomahhh!

07.06.09 at 1:30 pm ET
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In case you’ve been living under a rock this past weekend or maybe just consumed with Fourth of July excitement, a Boston icon will be returning to Fenway tonight.

Nomar Garciaparra will play at Fenway for the first time since July 25, 2004 in a 9-6 win over the Yankees. Nomar went 1-for-5 in his last game as a member of the Red Sox at Fenway. Who can forget that fateful trading deadline day in 2004? The Sox were in Minnesota and Theo made the deadline trade that changed Red Sox history. In a multi-player deal Nomar was shipped to the Chicago Cubs for Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and Montreal Expos (we’re dating ourselves) shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Who can forget No. 5 walking down the runway inside the Metrodome with bags packed and head slumped avoiding the media frenzy while Mientkiewicz raced to switch uniforms right before the game.

That was five years ago and now Nomar is back, even if just for three games. At the time there was speculation. Was it a good trade, a bad trade? Would the Sox make the playoffs without Nomar? No one could forsee the outcome of the 2004 season that day. Sports Illustrated claimed the Sox were doomed. 

We knew things weren’t good with Nomar and found out just how miserable the man was in Boston, how he hated the media and how much of a downer he was in the clubhouse. Boston turned on Nomar and all but forgot the once iconic figure that played for nine seasons with Boston. He gradually faded away from our memories and was all but forgotten during his three month DL stint with the Cubs  plagued by a severe left groin injury. Then he went on to LA for three seasons with the Dodgers joining Manny and Joe Torre. And now he is back in the American League with the A’s.

The Sox may have won the World Series that year but fell into a shortstop stumble in the absence of Nomar using 18 different players to fill the hole after he left. From Cabrera to Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Pokey Reese to Julio Lugo no one could fill the position successfully. Now it’s Nick Green and hopefully Jed Lowrie sometime before the end of the summer.

Nomar comes back to Fenway tonight hitting .257 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 31 games with Oakland. The once revered shortstop has been on the DL twice this season alone and now splits time between first base, third base and designated hitter. Since Boston his career has gone downhill. Way downhill. Not only has he been riddled with injuries but he has batted above .300 only once since 2004 (2006 with LA) while batting above .300 seven times during his nine seasons with the Sox. Why did Nomar hate Boston so much?

Either way Nomar is back tonight. While we may have tried to forget him when Nomar steps up to the plate tonight and we watch that funky pre-at bat wrist bumping, toe tapping, bat kissing ritual it might just feel like a summer night five years ago before that World Series win in 86 years. Tonight Boston will either boo or cheer the name that fit so well with the Boston accent when he steps up to the plate. How could we forget Nomar?

LEEInks Gets Technical Introduction to ‘Sheed

07.06.09 at 11:39 am ET
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Good morning New England!

Today, we’re going to take a look at the ever-colorful career of the newest Celtic, Rasheed Wallace. As WEEI.com’s Jeff Goodman reported, the 34-year-old forward/center agreed to a two-year deal worth the mid-level exception, in the neighborhood of 5.6-5.8 million dollars.

Let’s kick things off at the chronological beginning of the high profile career of Rasheed Wallace. Wallace was a standout player for Simon Gratz High School. ‘Sheed even played in the 1993 McDonald’s All-America Game.

Within the pages of the score book, Wallace’s meager nine points don’t exactly stand out against future UNC teammate Jerry Stackhouse’s 27 points. However, ‘Sheed made his presence felt by being the only player in the 30-year histroy of the game to be T’d up and tossed.

Technical fouls are nothing to new to Wallace, as he has garnered quite a few of them throughout his career. Some have come in key playoff games, some, like last year’s 19, happen during the regular season.

In fact, Wallace averages close to 22 technicals a season! It appears that Kendrick Perkins (sixth in the league with a dozen) has some major catching up to do.

Rasheed Wallace, however, may be known for one of the most infamous NBA arrests in recent memory as he and Trailblazers teammate Damon Stoudamire were booked on marijuana possession charges in late 2002. The arrest helped spawn one of the most infamous NBA squads of all-time in the Portland “Jailblazers.”

Wallace is also one of the most loquacious players in the league. Whether he’s doing his best Joe Namath impression during the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, talking about how both teams played that night, or how ex-teammate Ben Wallace was to recieve NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors, it isn’t difficult to get his opinion on things.

However, if you’re Oregonian scribe John Canzano, you know all too well about the temper of Rasheed Wallace. Scroll down about a quarter of the way down for Canzano’s ‘Sheed anecdote involving a very unfriendly Wallace.

Finally, Rasheed Wallace will give you, the fan, a song and dance while he’s a member of your team. Just ask Pistons fans over the last few years, they’ll certainly tell you.

And finally, now with the Celtics addition of Wallace, one can only hope that the C’s will pull off some Christmas carols, much like a few Pistons did last year. Needless to say, James Lord Pierpont’s original version of this song has undertaken a little bit of a facelift, thanks to ‘Sheed.

With all of that said–Welcome to Boston (and LEEInks), Rasheed Wallace!

Read More: mcdonald's, rasheed wallace, technical,

What is happening in these ballparks?!

07.03.09 at 2:29 pm ET
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Yesterday’s Astros/Padres game had to endure a 52-minute delay in the ninth inning due to a swarm of bees that set up shop near San Diego left fielder Kyle Blanks at Petco Park.

This would be an even bigger deal if it was the first time that something chaotic happened in a baseball stadium, but sadly, it’s not. In fact, it isn’t even the first time that bees caused a player to run for cover. Remember old friend Darren Oliver? He was forced to run from the mound in a 2005 spring training game while pitching for the Rockies. The reason? A swarm of bees attacked him, which he blamed on his hair gel. Every time he tried to go back to the mound, the bees accompanied him, so he was taken out of the game. Because of bees.

A few weeks ago I briefly touched on this sort of stuff as a result of the  Coco Crisp vs. Seagulls fiasco.

Doesn’t this all seem a bit too Little League? Running off the field because of bees? Losing a game because of a bunch of birds? Having a playoff game ruined by midges?

Then there are the roadbumps that come at the hands of Mother Nature. Obviously, delays and postponements due to rain, or even snow, aren’t anything that anyone can get too worked up about (unless you’re Mike Lowell and you’re miffed that the game was even attempted given the forecast).

The biggest case of a natural disaster in a stadium (besides Rosanne Barr in Jack Murphy Stadium — thank you, Mr. Werner) is obviously the Loma Prieta earthquake, which disrupted the 1989 World Series for 10 days after terrifying everyone in Candlestick Park prior to Game 3.

Rather than giving you the same old videos everyone has seen on the matter, here’s a pretty remarkable one-shot by a terribly nerdy-looking Giants fan that features some great before/after footage.

That video shows a lot of what went on from a fan’s perspective, but since people would probably rather hear Al Michaels’ voice than that guy’s, here’s the memorable ABC lead-in from that night.

The Loma Prieta Earthquake on National Television

Disasters at ballparks don’t always occur during the game or as fans are packing the stadium. In fact, three were killed when a crane collapsed during the construction of Miller Park back in 1999.

Normally, people will say it was an usual day at the ballpark when they see an infielder turn an unassisted triple play or an outfielder drop a homer into the stands. History is beginning to prove that not all shocking events at the stadium can be written into one’s score card.

Read More: Ballpark, Bees, Disasters, Midges

Citizenship and Sports

07.03.09 at 1:33 pm ET
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As the Fourth of July fast approaches, Americans are heating up their barbeques, donning their star spangled banners, and heading down to the Cape. But this year, there will be at least one more celebrating the great American holiday: Red Sox slugger Jason Bay.

The 30-year-old leftfielder officially became a U.S. citizen Thursday in a naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall. Originally from Trail, British Columbia, Bay said he’€™s still proud of his Canadian heritage, according to ESPN.com.

‘€œI don’€™t denounce being Canadian at any point, but I’€™m definitely proud to be an American,’€ he told reporters.

The Red Sox are certainly no foreigners when it comes to athlete citizenship. In 2004, Bay’€™s predecessor, the Dominican-born Manny Ramirez, missed a game against the Indians to become a U.S. citizen in Miami. The following day, he returned to Fenway waving a mini American flag as he ran out to leftfield.

Four years later, fellow Dominican and teammate David Ortiz swore his allegiance to the US of A, sporting a pin-stripe suit, dark shades, and his standard bling bling.

Still, others in the wide world of sports have never been too clear when it comes to their nationality ‘€“ or, in the case of Alex Rodriguez, nationalities. Though he was born in the U.S., Rodriguez is also a citizen of the Dominican Republic and has constantly struggled with an identification complex. In 2005, while discussing which team he would play for in the World Baseball Classic, Rodriguez channeled his inner James Brown and declared, ‘€œI want to say it out loud: I am Dominican’€¦and I am going to make the Dominicans feel proud.’€

But come the 2006 WBC, the waffling Rodriguez was wearing a U.S. uniform and playing alongside fellow countrymen Derek Jeter and Jason Varitek.

In 2009, Rodriguez once again caused much confusion as he switched alliances and decided that it would be a ‘€œdream come true’€ to play for the Dominican team. But the Yankees third baseman was hampered by injuries and, tragically, his dream never came true. I guess no one told the advertising department.

All A-Rod bashing aside, there are some athletes who truly dream of making a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. They flee from the persecution of oppressive regimes in their respective countries, risking their lives to ultimately share in the democratic ideals our country values so much.

Take the Royals’€™ Brayan Pena, for example. On a tour with the Cuban Junior National team, the then 17-year-old catcher was forced to sneak out of bathroom window in Venezuela and go into hiding for several months in an attempt to defect to the U.S. He left behind his family, friends, teammates, and the life he had known for 17 years.

Today, Pena is not only the starting catcher for Kansas City ‘€“ he is, most notably, a U.S. citizen. In an interview with MLB.com, Pena said: ‘€œI feel like the happiest man on earth now.

‘€œI’€™m proud to be a Cuban, too, but I’€™m proud to be an American citizen because this is the country I live in, this is the country I respect, the country that really gave me everything I’€™ve got. It’€™s amazing. There are things that money can’€™t buy, and American citizenship is one of them.’€

Read More: A-Rod, David Ortiz, Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez

Thursday Morning LEEInks

07.02.09 at 10:07 am ET
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Free agency has begun in both the NHL and NBA, with big-name players already on the move, including a few local college heroes landing in spots that will undoubtedly decrease their popularity in Boston.

In the NHL, the most popular free agent was taken off the market early when the Blackhawks decided it would be a good idea to pay Marian Hossa $5.233 million as a 42-year old. The 12-year deal is worth $62.8 million total, and while the average salary isn’t too devastating in the short term, Hossa will undoubtedly kill Chicago’s cap when he’s past his prime and the Blackhawks are trying to make improvements elsewhere.

While Hossa has played a part on almost-winning teams in the past (lost in Stanley Cup Finals the last two years with Pittsburgh and Detroit, respectively), the expectations placed on him by Chicago doubled when the Blackhawks watched leading scorer Martin Havlat defect to the Wild late last night for six years and $30 million. The Blackhawks also lost goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is headed to Edmonton after going 25-8 in his final season in Chicago.

There may have been massive shakeup in Chicago, but perhaps the biggest splash was made by the Canadiens. After trading for Scott Gomezon Tuesday, the Habs opened free agency by inking Mike Camalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, and old friend Hal Gill, to name a few. While Gill will provide the team with size (and, as Boston has witnessed, probably not much else) it is the signing of a little man, Boston College alum and NCAA champion Brian Gionta, that should cause the most heartache around these parts.

Gionta played four years at BC, winning it all in the ’00-’01 season before heading to the New Jersey Devils. Many pegged him as too small for the NHL– he is the second-shortest player in the league at what seems to be a generous 5’7″– he started for the Stanley Cup champion Devils in the ’02-’03 season. After the lockout, it seemed as though the “new NHL” was designed for him, as the Rochester Rocket scored a career-high 48 goals in the ’05-’06. Now at the age of 30, Gionta will make $5 million a year for the Habs. 

Not to be outdone, of couse, the Rangers threw some big money around too, but in what appears to be a less-logical fashion. Despite the fact that he only suited up in 17 games last season and has been notorious for his injuries, Marian Gaborik is headed to New York thanks to a 5-year, $37.5 million contract.

After missing significant time with a back injury last season, Gaborik was out for the final 38 thanks to hip replacement surgery. As Alex Katz wrote earlier today, hip injuries in sports are happening more and more often with each passing year.

As for the NBA, somebody just made Memphis’ recent pairing of UConn stars Rudy Gay and Hasheem look a lot less cool. The Pistons have thrown some big money around and should see a significant return when they team two UConn products– Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva— with former Husky Richard Hamilton.

While Gordon was a handful for the Celtics in their first-round match-up with the Bulls last season (42 points in game two, 33 in game seven), it is likely that both players will play a bigger role as nemesis to the Green than they previously have in their NBA careers.

 A call into Jonathan the Husky was not immediately returned, but all signs point to him remaining in Storrs and not replacing Detroit’s incumbent mascot, Hooper.

Meanwhile, ‘Sheed Watch continues in Boston, with Ainge apparently pulling out the big guns today. As expected, the Celtics aren’t the only team vying for the services of the 6-foot-11 forward, with the Spurs being the latest team to display their interest.

As for where Hedo Turkoglu is headed, you can forget about those Toronto rumorsPortland remains interested in Turkoglu, while it looks like David Lee is a more realistic option for the Raptors. 

Colleague Greg Cameron put together an impressive entry on NBA free agency in which he named Chris Andersen as a possibility for the Celtics. Unfortunately for local fans of tattoos and ridiculous hair, it’s looking like the Birdman will stay in Denver.

Here’s one to keep an eye on: the Cavaliers are apparently going after Ron Artest.

Music and Lyrics by Ronald William Artest, Jr.:

Paul!

I’m so sorry to humiliate you on TV by pulling your shorts down.

I won’t do it again!

Truly one of the sincerest moments in NBA history. How could that guy in Detroit not like him? Oh well, art isn’t for everyone. Seriously though, the Celtics may have the Big Three, but do you think a team that featured LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Ron Artest wouldn’t sell out every road game they play? Artest would bring Cleveland defensive prowess, but his insanity may sell just as much.

Read More: Artest, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Free Agency

Not Just Your Grandma’s Surgery

07.02.09 at 1:26 am ET
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Undergoing hip surgery used to be a tell tale sign of old age ‘€“ just another component of the senior citizen’€™s standard operating procedure along with playing mahjong and eating tapioca pudding.

But in recent months, an astounding number of major-league baseball players have fallen victim to hip ailments, and were consequently forced to undergo surgery. Thing is, these are no ordinary hip injuries: torn acetabular labrums are a new phenomenon among major leaguers, one that doctors had never even heard of a decade ago.

In the last eight months alone, prominent players including Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Carlos Delgado, Alex Gordon and Mike Lowell have all undergone hip labrum surgery. But since this injury is only beginning to gain national recognition, its long-term effects are still unknown.

Lowell, who underwent surgery last October, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained right hip. The 35-year-old Red Sox third baseman seemed to have recovered well as he batted .308 with eight homers in the months of April and May. But as the season wore on, he followed that up with a June in which he hit only .206 with two homers.

Only three and a half months after his surgery, Rodriguez hasn’€™t quite yet returned to his true form: this season, he’€™s only batting .239 with 13 homers. The Yankees third baseman also recently admitted that during his 15-year MLB career he used performance-enhancing drugs, which some doctors say might be the cause of this recent spike in hip injuries.

Others insist it’€™s simply an improvement in technology that’€™s brought the acetabular labrum injury to the forefront of sports medicine. In a recent New York Times article, University of Southern California Associate Professor Christopher Powers said:

‘€œPeople and doctors are just more aware of it diagnostically. We’€™ve always had hip problems; now we are just finding it better.’€

Still, according to the article, the number of players on the DL because of hip and groin-muscle injuries rose from 20 in 2007 to 34 in 2008. What’€™s more, at least 13 players have gone on the DL this season with hip injuries. If recent trends continue, that number seems likely to rise.

Read More: alex rodriguez, chase utley, hip, labrum

Free Agency Frenzy

07.01.09 at 10:39 am ET
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For the last twelve hours or so, NBA free agency (or in other words, the sport’s biggest square dance) is under way. This year’s free agent class includes quite a few notable names — including a few that could be in Danny Ainge’s sights.

Our own Dan Guttenplan takes a good look at Rasheed Wallace and the chances that he’ll be playing on Causeway Street. Guttenplan points out Wallace has excelled in situations with a great deal of discipline, and would do well in a disciplined environment playing with the always intense Kevin Garnett. Let’s face it — the Celtics most glaring needs are in the frontcourt. This past season, the Green certainly could have used another P.J. Brown or James Posey.

A name that could also intrigue Ainge and Celtic Nation is that of Chris Andersen. Andersen was on the Celtics radar late last summer after coming off of a drug use suspension and was close to signing with the C’s. (Andersen was also involved in one of the biggest dunk contest blunders back in 2005. Just ask the Birdman, he’ll tell you that good things take time.)

The Birdman isn’t the only former dunk contest participant on the free agent block this summer. Both Celtics alum Gerald Green and Miami small forward Jamario Moon were involved in the famed 2008 contest.

Sadly, there are no superheroes on the free agent block this summer.

Much was made in 2004 of Danny Ainge’s supposed infatuation with Bakersfield, California high schooler, Robert Swift. However, Swift was selected by the now-defunct Seattle SuperSonics three picks ahead of the Celtics’ first pick that year. However, if Ainge so desires, he could finally be united with the Ronald McDonald look-alike at long last. Chances are the seven-footer would come at a small price tag considering the tattooed center has been a disappointment by averaging just 4.3 points per game and an even less impressive 3.9 rebounds per game.

If the Celtics are looking for a back-up point guard there are two future Hall-of-Famers available  in Jason Kidd and Allen Iverson.

Kidd became part of a good-sized controversy when Globe columnist Bob Ryan made some fairly disparaging comments about Kidd’s family on WBZ’s Sports Final back in 2004. The comments directed at Kidd’s now former wife, Joumana, landed Ryan in a one-month suspension from both the Globe and ESPN’s Around the Horn.

And last and certainly not least, this quick jaunt around the free agent market takes us to  Iverson. Where does one even think to begin when writing about Iverson? Sure, he’s a former MVP and 10-time All-Star. He’s also won the NBA scoring crown four times, but let’s be honest, there’s one thing we all know that Allen Iverson will be known for from here on out.

Iverson or anyone else detailed here at the LEEInks, are probably not be the “answer” to the Celtics free agent questions, but how sweet would it be to see any one of these names wearing Celtic green?

Giant setback for Yao

06.30.09 at 11:13 am ET
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Tuesday’s news that Houston Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming may miss the entire 2009-2010 season with an injury that could ultimately be career-threatening injury (which was reported in the Houston Chronicle and Yahoo! Sports) shouldn’t be all that shocking.

Yao suffered a hairline fracture in his left foot in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Lakers on May 8. Originally expected to be out eight to twelve weeks, a bone scan last week revealed the fracture is not healing.

Yet the 7-foot-6 Yao is not a stranger to foot and leg injuries. In 2005, he missed 21 games because of an infection in his left big toe, and then broke his left foot later in the season. The following season, he broke his right leg and sat out 32 games. And in 2008, a stress fracture in his left foot caused him to miss the playoffs.

Not only is this bad news for the Rockets, but for China as well. Yao put China on the map as a legitimate international basketball powerhouse when he reached the NBA in 2002. He carried the Chinese Olympic team in the 2008 Olympics before it fell to the U.S. Yao means more to China than most things in America. He is more than China’s biggest athlete — he might be China’s biggest celebrity. He has surpassed Jackie Chan on the superstar level, and was No. 1 on the annual Forbes’ Celebrity 100 List for China.

Yao had been in China trying to recuperate the leg, but returned to the U.S. to have it tested before receiving the bad news. The Shanghai Daily News reported he will miss the Asian Basketball Championship, which starts on Aug. 6 in Tianjin. So we know he will be out at least for the beginning of the season.

So what does this mean for the Rockets — and the future of international basketball? Well, Yao did have surgery on the same leg in 2008 and came back four months later to play in the Olympics. So he is not a lost cause, yet. As for Houston, they’re also expecting All-Star Tracy McGrady to miss half of next season as well because of surgery on his left knee, which could pose a few problems. They still have Ron Artest unsigned and will need to make a decision, or a trade, soon.

Maybe Yao can rally — he’s only 28. As he did in 2008, he could come back again to make China proud and save the Rockets in the process. At least they can only hope.

Read More: Yao Ming,