On July 20th, 2011, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets officially retired from the NBA leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered for his impact on the game both on and off the court. Join us at Jackfroot as we take a look back on one of the greatest centers to ever play the game and what his presence meant to the NBA and the people of China who supported him throughout his entire career.
From the moment the Houston Rockets picked Yao as the #1 pick in the 2002 NBA draft, he became an instant international star and role model for Asian basketball players from all over the world. He was the first Asian player ever to be selected #1 in the NBA draft and was highly scouted while playing in China. Standing at 7’6, he was also one of the tallest players to play in the NBA and was an 8-time All-Star. He possessed a great shooting touch for a player of his size and was the best free-throw shooting center in NBA history at 83.3%.
With the lack of Asian players in the league, they used Yao’s presence as a marketing advantage here in the United States and in China. One of their most prominent marketing campaigns revolved around Yao Ming versus Shaquille O’Neal. Each time these two giants met, they touted their match-up as a “must see” event. Similar to Reggie Miller versus Michael Jordan, their match ups were always televised and highlighted, which helped and hindered Yao’s career.
In 2007, Yao married long time girlfriend Ye Li, who was a basketball player herself, while continuing his career in the NBA. However, he started suffering foot injuries that began to plague his performance and his endurance. No matter the amount of rehabilitation he went through, he never seemed to get back on track which eventually led to fewer games played and less impact to his team. After playing only 5 games in the 2010-2011 season, Yao finally decided that it was time for him to retire from the game and move on with his life.
As sad as it is to realize that Yao Ming will never step foot on an NBA court ever again, his career will always be remembered for all the positivity he added to the game. He opened up the eyes of fans from all around the world and showed them that an Asian player can be successful. Though he dealt with some racism here and there, overall, Yao was accepted and adored by all the fans here in the U.S. and overseas. The staff at Jackfroot applaud Yao for his career as a player and a person. He was always smiling and seemed to have a great time playing the game of basketball. Will there ever be another Yao Ming player in the NBA that represents Asians accordingly? We sure hope so. There is Jeremy Lin of the Golden State Warriors, but he has a long road ahead of him. The reality is, there will never be a player like Yao Ming ever again. He was truly a unique player and individual that blessed the fans with his skills and personality every night. The only thing to do now is look back, appreciate, and wish him the best with his future. We’ll miss you Yao!
Check out these highlights from Yao’s career.
Points: 19.0 pgÂ Blocks: 1.9 pg Rebounds: 9.2 pg
FT%: 83.3 FG%: 52.4%