Related News

Home » Sports » Basketball

Sun looks to scale Yao's heights

AT 7-foot-9, it's hard to overlook Chinese center Sun Mingming. The comparisons with NBA star Yao Ming are inevitable.

Able to dunk while barely leaving the ground, Sun just completed the most successful season of his pro career, helping the Hamamatsu Phoenix to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference of Japan's professional league.

"I just want to keep playing basketball," the 25-year-old Sun said after the final game of the season. "Whether it's here in Japan or in the United States, I hope to keep playing for at least 10 more years."

His size has led to the comparisons with his compatriot Yao of the Houston Rockets, but Sun's lack of speed is considered by experts as a barrier to a career in the NBA.

"He's a pretty good passer and a good shooter," said former Cleveland Cavaliers scout Robert Pierce, who now coaches in Japan. "He's so big that he could have a chance in the NBA but I think his size would be lessened because of the athletic ability and speed of NBA players."

Sun was on a one-year contract with Hamamatsu and said he will weigh his options.

The Bayan, Heilongjiang Province-native went to the US in 2005 to train for a possible career in the NBA and was declared eligible for the draft that year. But after a brief tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was not selected. The feedback then was that Sun lacked stamina and aggressiveness.

The news got worse for him that summer, although it perhaps explained his on-court deficiencies. Sun learned that he had a benign brain tumor pressing against his pituitary gland. The tumor was preventing the proper production of testosterone, cutting his stamina and endurance.

The tumor was also causing an overproduction of growth hormone resulting in a condition known as "acromegaly" that causes various parts of the body to have abnormal and unstoppable growth.

The tumor was removed in September 2005. Despite being in his 20s, he'd grown four inches taller in the previous few years.

Since the surgery, Sun has been a well-traveled journeyman. He played with several minor league basketball teams, including the Dodge City Legends of the US Basketball League, and the Maryland Nighthawks of the American Basketball Association.

In 2007, Sun played for Mexican team Fuerza Regia before coming to Japan.

If he ever should make it to the NBA, Sun would be the tallest player in the league's history, overtaking Manute Bol and Gheorghe Muresan, who both stood 7-foot-7. Shanghai-native Yao, at 7-foot-6, is the tallest active NBA player along with Shawn Bradley.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend