Shaquille O'Neal of the NBA's Miami Heat poses with young Chinese basketball players during a media event in Beijing August 14, 2007. O'Neal is on a promotional tour around China by the invitation of Li Ning, China's leading sportswear manufacturer.[Reuters]
NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal will give Yao Ming 24-inch car rims as a wedding gift when China's Houston Rockets star celebrates his third wedding ceremony later this year.
O'Neal, the Miami Heat's All-star center, is currently on a tour of China organized by his sponsor Li-Ning.
"I've heard the news that Yao has married a beautiful basketball player," the famous 34-year-old giant said.
"If you let me choose a wedding gift for him, I would give Yao four 24-inch customized rims at his wedding ceremony."
A number of NBA stars are crazy about custom cars- and big, shiny rims top their wish lists. But Yao is not so enamored of the four-wheeled sport, preferring to drive a BMW 7-series rather than more extravagant rides like Ferrari roadsters or SUVs. In fact, the only customized feature of Yao's car is a "Y&Y" logo - for Yao and his wife Ye Li - on the rear.
The 27-year-old Yao, a 2.26-meter center for the Texan NBA franchise, married his girlfriend of eight years last week.
The couple held two ceremonies, one in Yao's hometown of Shanghai and another in Beijing where China's national team is based.
The wedding of Yao and Ye, a former Chinese National Team player and current University of Houston student, attracted huge media attention in China.
Some reports have claimed the center will celebrate another wedding in Houston in autumn, where O'Neal believes he will be among the guests.
"I am sure he has sent the invitation to me," he said.
"I haven't checked my mailbox recently because I travel a lot, but I am sure he did."
Having witnessed Yao's NBA evolution in the past five years, O'Neal has changed his tune on the Chinese player after questioning Yao's ability during his rookie year.
"Obviously Yao has grown into one of the best centers in the league," O'Neal said.
"He is awful (to play against) on both ends. I have to be well prepared before the games against the Rockets.
"The other kid (Yi Jianlian) is also impressive, I know he can shoot, dunk and spin. I am sure he will make his place in the league.
"I am happy to see more and more Chinese players coming up - it is very good for the league as a whole."
O'Neal is widely regarded as the NBA's most dominant centre after winning four NBA championships, three with the Los Angeles Lakers between 2000 and 2002 and one with the Heat last year.
He signed a sponsorship deal with China sportswear manufacturing giant Li-Ning last year and has worn its shoes ever since.
很多NBA球星都喜欢定制车，又大又炫的车轮是他们的最爱。但姚明对此并不十分感兴趣，他更喜欢开宝马7系列，而不是像法拉利和SUV那些较为奢华的车。其实，姚明的车唯一“特别定制”的地方就是车后方的“Y&Y”（Yao Ming & Ye Li）标志。