NBA keeps hitting from long distance in world's biggest nation

SHANGHAI -- Tom Thibodeau saw the basketball seeds of promise being planted in China long before most of his colleagues.
The basketball lifer, and a former assistant coach with the Houston Rockets from 2003-2007, spent several years making the long flights back and forth from the United States to Beijing or Shanghai in order to train Yao Ming. At that time, the promising young center was forging an NBA career with the Rockets, while doubling as both a cultural icon and focal point of the Chinese National team.