Houston Community News >> McGrady Confident He and Yao Will Boost Rockets

9/27/2006 Houston-- Tracy McGrady says Chinese center Yao Ming has come of age as an NBA player and expects the two of them to make this a big year for the Houston Rockets.

McGrady played in only 47 games last season because of a back injury, and Yao missed time with a toe injury, but when the dynamic duo were on court together the Rockets were 21-10.

"We were unbelievable," McGrady told reporters on Wednesday at a news conference to launch the NBA LIVE 07 video game. The problem for Houston was the long stretch of games when they were not on court together, going 13-38 for an overall record of 34-48. McGrady said he was healthy and raring to go, just like Yao, who he saw recently during an Asian tour to promote his new sports shoe.

"He's great, strong. He's in great shape. His body fat is unbelievable. This is going to be a really interesting season." McGrady, who averaged 24.4 points to 22.3 for Yao, said there might be a silver lining to missing nearly half a season through injury. "I think it gave Yao the opportunity to progress and gain more confidence in his ability to lead a team," the high-scoring swingman said.

"I think me being out was a good thing for Yao. It was kind of like the Grant Hill situation for me. When I first came to Orlando, Grant Hill wasn't healthy and it gave me the opportunity to blossom into the player that I am. "I think he's ready," McGrady said about the big center, who at 26 is one year younger than him. "With the two of us out there on the basketball court healthy, anything is possible for us. I really feel we can be one of the elite teams in our conference."

McGrady said they had a special chemistry. "The thing about myself and Yao is we're very unselfish players. I don't care about him getting 30 or 40 points and I just get 15. As long as I win.

"This year I would defer more to him because I think he's ready to take on a bigger role. Not that I'm going to tone my game down, but I'm going to get him more involved and get more touches. We just got that chemistry." Another factor that could boost the Rockets is the off-season addition of Shane Battier, who gives Houston another jump-shooting option and is also a tough-nosed defender.

"I think he's going to help us in so many areas," McGrady said. "He brings so much, defensive intensity and his IQ for the game of basketball. We will soon see as the NBA starts in November.

(Contributed by Reuters)