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If Yao Ming's last name is Ming, why does it say Yao on the back of his jersey?

-- J, the net

Culture check. Mrs. Ming's baby boy Yao is actually Mrs. Yao's baby boy Ming. Confused at birth? No. Confused when East met West. Chinese names traditionally begin with the family name, followed by the individual's name (our "first" name). Ming came to us with traditions intact and Yao Ming name tapes already sewn into his big, long Houston Rockets shorts. As long as his endorsement checks don't bounce, I imagine we can call Ming whatever we want. To a Westerner, Yao sounds pretty appropriate anyway. And we did get that cool "Yo! Yao!" commercial. The Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki isn't Chinese, of course, even though his uni says "Ichiro." He's had that since he was on a Japanese team with two other guys named Suzuki, and they let two of the three of them use their first names instead. He had to beg and plead with the National League to let him put his first name on his Mariners suit.

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