On the other hand, the retired Chinese basketball player Yao Ming is a national icon, so it might have helped to know how injury prone Ming was before asking if he'd ever been hurt.
"Did you ever get injured?" Brown asked the former Houston Rockets standout before a dinner cruise on the Huangpu River on Saturday.
In fact, Ming said, injury was the reason he retired.
And no, it was not his knees, Ming said when Brown suggested basketball can be hard on them, but his ankle.
Ming, who owns a Napa Valley winery, met with Brown and posed for photographs before the governor and other members of his week-long trade mission to China left the dock.
Following the Brown-Ming injury exchange, Brown's wife, Anne Gust Brown, stepped in, a compliment coming.
"What do you do now to keep in shape?" she said.
When Ming said he isn't in shape, she replied, "You look in shape to me."
"OK," Ming said. "Thank you."
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown and retired Chinese basketball player Yao Ming meet in Shanghai on Saturday, April 13, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee