Beijing -- Taking up the cry of long-suffering coach Rick Adelman, millions of Yao Ming fans moved from the Chinese blogosphere to the streets chanting pro-Yao and anti-officiating sentiments.
"Where are the calls against the Trail Blazers?" "Yao is getting mugged." "The referees always call playoffs against Rockets."
After Game 4, the relief in Beijing was palpable. "Finally, fouls called against such crowding." "Yao still is being assaulted. Every play they should call fouls on the American Running Dogs." "Yao would hang 40 on the Blazers except for their cheating ways." And, "Yao is so much a gentleman that he does not respond with superior Chinese kung fu."
Banners still hung far low: "If Rockets not make it out of first round, Chinese people boycott the NBA!"
Stern appears in Tien Mien Square
David Stern, sensitive to the Chinese position, read a short announcement. "It is about time that Yao, that giant talent from this unbelievably huge and growth oriented market, has made it out of the first round." When reminded that Houston had to win another game, Stern said, "Well, let's call that a formality."
"You are sure the Rockets make Round 2?"
"Yes, you can quote me in your native tongue that it will be a Kobe versus Yao showdown in Round 2."
"But sir, is that not a discredit to the proud Trail Blazers franchise of Bill Walton?"
Signing off with a little wave and a crooked smile, Stern said, "Believe me, by now they're used to it."