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All-Star Game Embodies More International Taste
Yao Ming is leading the attention of the international players in the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, which has five overseas players to compete and another seven foreign players participating the gala in Atlanta this weekend.

Yao, a 7-6 center from China, was the first choice of most of the over 200 reporters in Friday afternoon's open interview at the Centennial Ballroom of Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta.

The Houston Rockets rookie, who will start in Sunday's All-Star Game for the West Conference ahead of Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers, was surrounded by a horde of reporters at the start of the media session.

Some photographers who came late had to bring ladders and boxes to find a space to shoot, and others standing in front of audio amplifiers to take tape record.

"I feel excited here. The All-Star Game is completely a new feeling to me," Yao said. "I'm glad I can participate in the gala. "

A record 12 international players will join in the All-Star Weekend, which prompts the NBA to set up a special oversees players meeting with the media from countries and areas outside of the United States.

"It's not me only who makes this happened. It's because the efforts brought by all the international players in the NBA," Yao said.

"The international basketball is getting better and better. They've had great impacts on the NBA," said Dirk Nowitzki from the Dallas Mavericks. "It's really amazing."

The German forward's remarks were soundly responded by his peer, Peja Stojakovic of Yugoslavia.

"The success of international players in the NBA shows the big confidence of the international basketball," said the Sacramento Kings forward, who will defend his title in the Shootout.

Gary Payton, a 10-time All-Star player from the Seattle SuperSonics, said, "The overseas players has proved they know how to pass, to shoot three-pointers, to defend. That's the reason why a lot of them were picked up (in the draft)."

"They're doing great job to come into the All-Star Game. I would say they make the league more compatible. I have to work on more fundamental things to keep myself in the competition," he added.

The All-Star Game will be broadcast to 3.1 billion TV audiences from 212 countries and areas of the world in 41 different languages.

More than 250 international media from 35 countries and areas of the world have sent reporters to Atlanta to cover the All-Star Weekend, which is slated from Feb. 7-9.

The NBA.com will broadcast the All-Star Game on the website in 12 languages.

(Eastday.com February 9, 2003)

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