Yao: No shaving for 6 months if China misses final eight
National Basketball Association star Yao Ming vowed not to pick up a razor for six months if China does not reach the quarter-finals of the Athens Olympic tournament.
"If we don't, I won't shave for six months as punishment."
Yao might resemble the fur-covered Yeti of the Himalayas or the fabled North American Sasquatch if China fails and the 2.26m center goes all hairy in the two-month run-up to his next NBA season for the Houston Rockets.
But if Yao leads the Chinese into the final eight, China would do no worse than match its best-ever Olympic finish - eighth.
The goal Yao has set is not an easy one. China is in a preliminary group with world champion Serbia and Montenegro, NBA-bolstered Spain and Argentina, New Zealand and Italy, which beat the United States earlier this month.
The top four in the group will advance to the quarter-finals.
The Chinese, guided by NBA Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Del Harris, open Sunday against Spain. Yao will have a matchup against Spanish star center Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I think we have the potential to achieve something that no Chinese team has ever done before," Harris said.
If they fail, Harris can only hope the extra hair makes Yao slower in the NBA season, where his Mavericks are division rivals of the Rockets.