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Yao imbibes a bit too much during wedding party

8/10/2007 - NBA Yao Ming

BEIJING -- Newlywed Yao Ming treated his Chinese teammates
to a celebratory dinner at a posh hotel, where guests feasted on a
10-course meal -- and the 7-foot-6 center had a little too much to drink.

The Houston Rockets center "rarely drinks," but this time he
marked the occasion and "drank quite a bit," Yao spokesman Erik
Zhang said.

"I don't think [Yao] was drunk but he was pretty close. He went
back to his room and fell asleep," Zhang said by telephone. "But
he felt this was a celebration. And also his teammates, the people
who care about him, they're not going to let him get away with not
drinking. And he knows that."

Yao tied the knot Monday with longtime girlfriend Ye Li, a 6-2
player on the Chinese women's basketball team, in Yao's hometown of
Shanghai. Only close friends and relatives attended.

Yao and Ye held a dinner Thursday night at Beijing's Grand Hyatt
hotel with their teammates, Zhang said. China Basketball
Association officials were among the 70 guests.

No teammates or coaches from the Rockets were there, Zhang
added. Yao plans to host a dinner when he returns to Texas.

Teammate Liu Wei said in a posting on his blog that the dinner
included traditional wedding banquet games designed to embarrass
the bride and groom.

Guests emptied six bottles of Mao Tai, a fiery Chinese spirit
usually downed in shots from small teacups. Yao and Ye took a shot with their arms intertwined, and were asked to kiss in front
of the guests.

Yao also picked up Ye, and the bride had to light a cigarette
for her tallest teammate, who was standing on a chair above the
towering couple.

Guests dined on grouper, abalone, roast pork and ginseng chicken
soup.

"I can tell you there was definitely no shark's fin," Zhang
said, referring to the traditional banquet delicacy that Yao
pledged to give up after becoming spokesman for environmental
groups that oppose killing sharks for their fins.

Yao and Ye left the hotel Friday with two luggage carts full of
presents. Among them was a crystal warrior figurine from Wang
Zhizhi, the first Chinese in the NBA and now a player in China's
professional league and on the national team.

"I hope he will be fierce like a warrior during next year's
Beijing Olympics," Wang told the Beijing Morning Post.

Yao and his wife returned to Shanghai on Friday and will leave
in the next couple of days to honeymoon in Europe.