The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Three Tall Guys in a Chinese Restaurant's VIP Room

Maybe it’s just me, but I found this article on CNNSI to be one of the funniest things that I’ve read in a long time. Not just ha-ha funny, but truly laugh out loud funny. Making it even funnier is that I don’t think the author – who is not credited in the piece – did not write this as a comedic piece.

I found this article so funny that I’m going to take a page from Mike’s Baseball Rants and comment throughout the story like (another) Mike used to with Joe Morgan’s chats. Feel free to follow the link above to read the article on it’s own and then you can come back and re-read it with my added commentary (if nothing else it will give you a glimpse into my sad, twisted mind).

The article below appears in the March 14th issue of Sports Illustrated as the First Person feature:

(Note from Mike: No disrespect to Mr. Mutombo intended, but this article is considerably funnier if you remember to read the Dikembe Mutombo sections using a Cookie Monster voice)

Yao Ming's parents opened the 100-table Yao Restaurant & Bar in a west Houston strip mall late last month. When the Rockets' All-Star treated his backup Dikembe Mutombo and assistant coach and former Knicks big man Patrick Ewing to lunch, SI's Gene Menez was there.

(Mike: C’mon, this just sounds like the set up to a joke, doesn’t it?

Yao Ming, Patrick Ewing, and Dikembe Mutombo walk into a restaurant… Not just any restaurant – a Chinese restaurant run by Yao’s parents in a Houston-area strip mall)

The three enter and are led to Yao's VIP room, which is customized for tall people. (Yao's mother, Fang Feng Di, is 6'3"; his father, Yao Zhi Yuan, is 6'7".) The doorway is nine feet high, the table and chairs are supersized, and large plush recliners sit opposite a 42-inch flat-screen TV.

(Mike: It’s just too easy, so I’ll pass on the myriad of potential jokes about Patrick Ewing and a VIP room.

Amazingly, the set up doesn’t end with Yao’s parents’ Houston-area strip-mall restaurant: the restaurant’s VIP room is “customized for tall people.” As the Guinness guys would say, “Brilliant!” I’m sure that area will be packed 7-nights a week.

Actually, it probably will be popular for 8-year olds birthday parties)

EWING: What kind of food do they serve here?

MUTOMBO: Chinese.

(Mike: Wow. Simply wow. Keep in mind here that both Ewing and Mutombo are Georgetown alums. Not former Georgetown students, but Georgetown ALUMS. They hold degrees from the university.

I’m sure that those of you who hold degrees from Georgetown too feel some shame right now too. Well, unless of course you’re the one other person in the world – other than Ewing – who thought that Yao’s parents were going to open a barbeque place in Houston.)

EWING: I know Chinese. But what kind of Chinese? Snake? 'Cuz I don't eat snake.

YAO: No snake. In China, yes, but you're not in China.

EWING: Well, I don't eat pork, duck or chicken either. Only shrimp and fish [and beef].

MUTOMBO: I eat anything.

(Mike: Seriously – I hope you’re keeping at the Cookie Monster thing. If not, go back to the top and start reading again – this section just kills me.)

EWING: [Browsing through the black leather-bound menu] What's the speciality here?

YAO: Uh. ... [Looks at menu and shrugs.]

(Mike: You’ll have to excuse Yao for his loss for words. While his family does run the restaurant, it’s not like he has a Georgetown education.)

Ewing, Mutombo and Yao order coconut curry prawn, General Tso's chicken, fried rice with shrimp, Mongolian beef, garlic basil prawn, Szechuan prawn and white rice.

(Mike: Sounds about right: three guys, five entrees. Oh, you don’t live on an NBA player’s per diem? I thought it was just me?)

MUTOMBO: [Sipping a virgin strawberry daiquiri] I like your restaurant, Yao. It's made for 7-footers and guys like Patrick Ewing, who is really 6'9". [Ewing has always been listed as 7 feet.]

EWING: Hey, I may be 6'9", but I'm a bad 6'9". And what about you? When I first met you, you told me you were from Zaire.

MUTOMBO: No, Congo. [Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997.]

(Mike: I have to skip over Mutombo and his virgin daiquiri. From all of the stories I’ve heard about Dikembe over the years, I would have thought he would have subscribed to the “if they’re not good enough for their cousins, they’re not good enough for me” theory of drinking.

Regardless, the shot at Ewing’s height is pretty funny. Hopefully the scientists who calculate BMI’s for the media are adjusting Ewing’s stats right now.

I just wish that Mutombo had taken the Zaire – Congo thing a little further. I think Ewing’s head might have started to spin.)

EWING: How many languages do you speak, seven?

MUTOMBO: I speak Ebonics now, so eight. Yao, do you speak Ebonics? [Yao shrugs.]

Mutombo's cellphone rings. The ring tone is 50 Cent's In Da Club. He answers and starts speaking one of his eight languages -- not English.

EWING: Man, every time I go over to Dikembe's, he's on the phone. [Ewing picks up his cellphone and starts mocking Mutombo.] 'Doobleedoo doobloodoo doobleedoo. ...' I'm like, 'What the hell is he saying?'

(Mike: Wow – I don’t think any of that even needs comment. But, for the record, the 50 Cent ringer on Mutombo’s cell phone is what convinced me that this is pure comedy.)

The food comes, and the three dig in.

MUTOMBO: That's what I'm talking about. Yao, next week I'm bringing my wife and kids, and we're going to eat like this.

YAO: How many will you be?

MUTOMBO: Me, my wife, my kids, my cousins ... about 10.

YAO: Just let me know.

(Mike: So Yao isn’t sure what the house specialties are, but he’s pretty comfortable with the drill of taking a reservation.

Dikembe + wife + kids + cousins = 10. Yikes!)

EWING: [To Mutombo] Can you pass me that beef?

MUTOMBO: Sure. [Before passing it, Mutombo takes his own spoon and scoops four pieces onto his plate.]

EWING: Man, I don't want that now. You put your spoon in the plate. [Ewing nonetheless takes the plate from Mutombo.] Jeez, man.

(Mike: I wish they hadn’t left out what Cookie Monster, err, Mutombo was doing with his spoon earlier.)

MUTOMBO: Oh, come on. I didn't even touch the beef on your side of the plate. You can eat that. [Ewing reluctantly scoops three pieces onto his plate. He doesn't say a word.]

MUTOMBO: How long have we known each other, 18 years? I've been dealing with this same crap for 18 years.

EWING: Let's see if the curry shrimp tastes like Jamaican curry shrimp.

MUTOMBO: Yao, you know there's a lot of Chinese in Jamaica [where Ewing was born].

YAO: You sure they were not Vietnamese or Japanese or Korean?

MUTOMBO: Of course.

EWING: You may have cousins down there, Yao. You may have family in my country!

MUTOMBO: All the food's good. The chicken is the bomb. The coconut prawns, too. The Mongolian beef is my favorite. Tell your mommy everything is good. [Mutombo flashes two thumbs-up.]

MUTOMBO: [To Ewing] I'm sorry you don't eat chicken. I feel very sorry for you.

EWING: [His mouth full of shrimp] Don't feel sorry for me. The shrimp is very good.

Yao leaves the table and sits in a recliner.

EWING: You finished already?

(Mike: Up to this point, if the author had told you that this was three anonymous twelve year olds eating a meal, you’d probably have believed it.)

YAO: Yeah, I can eat this every day if I want. At home. Here.

EWING: [Rubbing belly] I gotta go work out tonight. I'm full. You got a treadmill for me?

YAO: Leave your car keys here and run home. I'll give you the keys tomorrow.

MUTOMBO: I'm so full too. Somebody may have to drive me home.

(Mike: Be honest Dikembe, is that really because of the food, or does it have something to do with those virgin daquiris that you’ve been pounding?)

YAO: Keep eating. You can stay here all night.

The waiter enters and asks if they need anything.

EWING: I need a take-out menu.

MUTOMBO: Look at this motherf-----. [Laughter]

EWING: I'm not going to order anything now, but one night, if I'm hungry, I'll call and order and say, 'Put it on Yao's bill.'

YAO: All right. Of course.

EWING: How much is the bill?

YAO: I got it.

(Mike: How generous of Yao to pick up the bill at his own place!)

EWING: You got it?

YAO: Yeah. [He slides a $100 bill under a tea cup on the table as a tip.]

MUTOMBO: You're a great man, Yao. When you come to Africa, I'm going to take you to a great African restaurant.


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