I’ve just arrived in Europe. While I’m here I’m going to get a tshirt made up with English on the front and Chinese on the back, saying ‘No, I do not play basketball.’
Just this week in Shenzhen a forty-year-old came up to me in the street, face askew to the sky and my head and thrust his phone in my face. He clocked my confusion and did the international sign for taking a photo. Oh okay, you want a picture with the freak show that at two metres in height is yours truly. His daughter dutifully snapped away with his phone, he putting his arm round my frame, and a gaggle of locals gathering to look at the giant. Then, as is so often the way in China, he turns to me and says excitably, “Yao Ming, Yao Ming!”. No, I do not play basketball, I tell him as I have countless others in China.
In the Philippines where basketball is the number one street, folk call out from the street, “Hey Joe, you play basketball?” Occasionally I might humour them and show just how bad I am at the game. Now though I’ll be armed with my sport repellent tshirt!