Blog Entry

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Posted on: July 8, 2011 2:51 pm
With the news Friday that Yao Ming has decided to retire, the NBA lost a giant whose stature made him a force on the court and an ambassador for the spread of basketball throughout Asia.

His impact on the floor and in the record books was muted by injury, but Yao’s influence on the globalization of basketball will be felt for years, if not decades.

Yao, 30, endured years of pain and injuries to his feet and lower legs and most recently could not overcome a stress fracture in his left foot that caused him to miss all but five games in the 2010-11 season. The 7-foot-6 center has yet to file official retirement paperwork with the NBA office, but that would be a mere formality after Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that Yao has informed the Rockets, league office, and NBA China in the past 48 hours of his intention to retire.

It was the presence of Yao, along with the 2008 Beijing Olympics, that lifted the NBA to new heights of popularity and revenue-generation in China during the past decade. The league launched NBA China in 2008, and Sports Business Journal has estimated that between $150 million and $170 million of the NBA’s annual revenues are generated in Yao’s native land.

Some of the NBA’s biggest America-born stars have endorsement and charitable ventures linked to China, such Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and the recently retired Shaquille O’Neal. Several of Yao’s teammates with the Rockets, including Luis Scola and Shane Battier, also have benefited. The top 10 best-selling NBA jerseys in China are all worn by American-born players, led by Bryant, who has owned the top spot for four straight years.

Bryant, received in China like a rock star during the Beijing Games, has made several promotional trips to China for endorsement work with Nike and has created the Kobe Bryant China Foundation to raise money and awareness for education and health programs. If Bryant provided the momentum for basketball’s robust commerce in China, it was Yao who lit the flame.

Yao retires as a once-dominant force whose impact on the court was derailed by injuries that cost him 170 regular season games over the course of his career. His best season was 2006-07, when he averaged 25 points, 9.4 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the field. For his career, Yao averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, and in an aberration for a player his size, shot .833 from the foul line.

It is the end of a career, but also a new beginning – the start of an era with only one dominant center left in the game, Dwight Howard, and potentially billions of dollars in new marketing opportunities for the NBA in China and beyond. Yao started it all.

Since: Jun 23, 2011
Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:36 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Best of luck big guy!

Since: May 6, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2011 2:23 am

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Not a rockets fan and don't know alot about Yao to be honest.  What I do know is when he was healthy he was a great player on the court and as far as I know he was always a class act off the court.  It bums me out to see a pretty good guy with a real shot at being an NBA great have his legs cut out from under him by injury.  I hope he can make as big an impact off the court in his life as he would have been able to on the court if not for the injuries.  Good luck in life Yao.  You were dealt a bum wrap injury wise but we enjoyed seeing ya play for awhile at least. 

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2011 12:20 am

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Yao Ming was a class act and great for the game.  Thanks for being the player and person you are.

Since: Oct 10, 2007
Posted on: July 8, 2011 11:04 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Twenty bucks says Yao somehow manages to get voted into next season's all-star game anyway (whenver "next season" happens to take place).

Since: Feb 13, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:04 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court


  Yao was not overrated. Undermined, yes. Underappreciated - oh, yes. Overplayed, yes (especially by the Chinese who would not let him rest in the offseason). But overrated - I don't think so.
 Another Manute Bol - that's just plain stupid - What game Bol have ever dominated?
Yao will go down as the biggest talent wasted by the Stern's NBA.
Yes he was the ambassador but the Stern's gang did not need him a winner. They just could not bear the idea that a Chinese man could dominate NBA. So they didn't let him to. How many times he was forced to sit out with the bogus fouls. How many times he was abused and murdered by the giftless opposite players - and the officials just looked other way. But he never complained - a true class act.
Houston Rockets did nothing to protect him. They just hired Ewing to coach him who made him a jump shooter - at 7.5 feet why he ever had to jump?
Can you imagine if he was on Mark Cuban's team. The whole world would know that the racists from Stern's gang were torpedoing the best player in the world.
Yes, the best player in the world - at his peak he was the best if he was officiated fairly. He was undefendable. He completely dominated Dwight Howard. In those rare games the refs were fair to him he forced Shaq to foul out - btw the only player to do so one on one. He generally played Shaq better than anybody else in the 21 century.

I don't want to feel bad for the guy - at the peak of his fame he was making more than 50M a year - more than any of us will in a lifetime.
But as a basketball fan I am sad.
Enjoy your retirement, huge guy.

Since: Jun 27, 2011
Posted on: July 8, 2011 8:34 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

so shaq and yao retire same year :(. yao should b smart and put him self on the roster so he makes the all star team every year :)

Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 7:22 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

The human body isn't designed to be that big and handle that much stress. 

Since: Sep 1, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:46 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

John: Another Manute Bol? Come on, let's be fair. Manute averaged, during his best seasons. 4 pts and 6 RB's a game. Conversely, Yao at his best was a 25 pt and 10RB a game performer. Yes, I agree that Yao was injured way too much and part of being a great player is staying healthy over a long period of time. But Yao had excellent offensive skills; he had a legitimate NBA game. Manute Bol had no game. Period. Any comparison between the two is ridiculous.

Yao is only overrated by those who consider an all time great center. He was not because he did not sustain his dominance over a long enough period of time. He was a very good player who simply could not stay healthy.  

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:34 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

Yao was way over rated just another manute bol with no game size does matter to an extent you have to play the game.  too too often he was relegated to the sidelines. need someone who plays the whole game, injuries curtail many but others are happy to hit the sidelines and enjoy some pork fried rice 

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:28 pm

Yao: A giant on and off the court

YAO was a Giant of the game; literally.  There are hundreds of guys who will have much better stats, better careers, achieve a lot more, but very few of them ever effect the game like Yao Ming.  He was humble, pleasant, and mild-mannered.  Always said the right thing and carried himself with class.  At his peak, he was an amazing shot-blocker, could score over anyone, and created tons of opportunities for his teammates.

The NBA probably made and will make more money and create more opportunities off of Yao than any other player in the history of the game outside of Jordan.  It's difficult to penetrate any market where no one looks like your players and they speak a completely different language, never mind a place where 90% of the population is under 5-7.

Regardless of whatever the Rockets are today, they are far less interesting. Luis Scola, Shane Battier (I know not on Houston anymore), Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, and Chase Budinger are not exactly 'exciting'.

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