Yao Ming Mania! All about Chinese basketball star and NBA All-Star Yao Ming

Video: Yao Ming Jersey Retirement Ceremony

February 3rd, 2017
by John

In case you missed it, here’s video of the full ceremony to retire Yao’s Houston Rockets jersey (#11) from February 3rd, 2017, courtesy of ‘pennyccw’ on YouTube. It’s cool to see former teammates Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo and Shane Battier. Hakeem the Dream was there, too!

Yao has some funny stories in his speech that are classic!

Perspectives as we approach Yao’s jersey retirement in H-Town Feb 3rd

January 28th, 2017
by John

The following guest post is courtesy of avid reader and fan Cliff James.

Yao

Whenever anyone thinks about the NBA, the greats of the modern era are indisputable: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, just to name a few. Since its inaugural season in 1946, much of the NBA’s personality and perception is defined by some of its best players. For much of the league’s time, African-American and Caucasian players have been its fabric. However, one player changed all of this.

By becoming the league’s most prominent player of Chinese heritage, Yao Ming provided a different look to the league and in doing so, vastly increased the popularity of the sport. Yao’s achievements are highly regarded as he recently became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Now he will have his jersey retired by the team where he spent his legendary NBA career, the Houston Rockets.

Jersey Retirement Ceremony:

After already achieving what is arguably the greatest basketball honor in becoming a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Yao’s next step in solidifying his basketball legacy will take place on February 3rd where his jersey (No. 11) will hang in the rafters of Toyota Center. Other all-time greats’ jerseys already memorialized in Houston Hakeem Olajuwon, Calvin Murphy, Clyde “the Glide” Drexler, and Moses Malone.

Yao’s Career:

Although Yao Ming never won an NBA championship or an NBA MVP award (he got close one season), his influence on the Rockets’ franchise is “up there” (pun intended) with the aforementioned legends. At 7’6” with almost a 10-foot wingspan, Yao entered the NBA as a player like no one had ever seen before.

Scoring at the rim without even needing to jump most of the time, Yao’ shots were almost impossible to guard due to his height advantage. His talent didn’t go unnoticed as he made 8 All-Star teams, four different All-NBA teams, and the NBA All-Rookie first team during his rookie season. Despite his achievements, when looking back at Yao’s career, much of his immense potential was washed away with a series of injuries that eventually ended his career very early at the age of 31.

Still, Yao Ming’s biggest achievements were not just his play on the court. ESPN’s Tracy McGrady summed it up best in an article he wrote about the time he spent playing with Yao Ming in the prime of his career. McGrady wrote how Yao led millions of people to the game of basketball in China simply because he had made it to the NBA. Overall, as we approach Yao’s jersey retirement, clearly the Houston Rockets were fortunate to have had such a game redefining player in Yao.

That said, many fans forget there was a time early in Yao’s career when players (past and present) and the national media ridiculed him because they couldn’t believe a man who had never played collegiate basketball in this country — not even high school ball — could ever make it in the NBA. To make matters worse, when head coach Rudy Tomjanovich didn’t start him right away in his rookie season, primarily because Rudy himself didn’t know how good he was, Yao was unfairly called a bust and a failure. This angered many of his loyal supporters, especially those of Asian heritage, because Yao represented THEM.

But when Houston’s starting center Kelvin Cato had to unexpectedly miss a few games early in the 2002-03 season because of the death of a parent, Rudy HAD to start Yao earlier than planned. The rest is history when Yao showed what he had in a breakout performance against the LA Lakers that changed everyone’s mind when he actually got a chance to play a meaningful number of minutes in a game.

Although Yao spends most of his time in China now, the reception Yao gets when he returns to Toyota Center is always heartening to see, especially for Asians and Asian-Americans who believed in him when many skeptics did not.

Yao to be inducted into Basketball HoF

April 4th, 2016
by John

It’s been announced that Yao will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later this year. The video below is pretty cool where Yao says he was ‘surprised,’ and Jeff Van Gundy and Shaq say nice things about him…

JVG also makes the case for Yao’s HoF worthiness to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen in this story.

This video montage is a great retrospective.

This 1-on-1 interview with Gary Chow is pretty good.

Yanan Wang with the Washington Post sums things up well with “How Yao Ming subverted stereotypes and brought basketball to millions

One of the best interviews/podcasts of Yao (with Yahoo’s Woj)

February 15th, 2016
by John

I know it’s been a long time since my last post since things have been so quiet with Yao for such a long time. But I was blown away with the retrospective that Yahoo’s Adrian “Woj” Wojnarowski was able to get from Yao as he reflected back on his career during the 2016 All Star break in Toronto. Below is the entire podcast, and here’s the link to Woj’s “The Vertical” page.

“NBA Yao School” announcement; Yao meets up with Lakers

October 21st, 2013
by John

Yao was pretty busy a few days ago in China. On October 15th he held a press conference in Beijing with NBA commissioner David Stern and other head honchos to announce the creation of the “NBA Yao School” in Beijing.

October 15, 2013 - Yao Ming at a press conference in Beijing with NBA commissioner David Stern to announce the NBA Yao School

The NBA Yao School, launching in February 2014, will provide after-school basketball training and fitness programs for boys and girls up to age 16 at all skill levels. The school aims to teach the importance of teamwork, leadership and communication in a fun basketball environment.

This announcement marks another milestone in the partnership between NBA China and Yao to develop youth basketball and create social responsibility programs in China. For more details about the NBA Yao School and video from the press conference, click here.

After the press conference, Yao attended a preseason game between Golden State and the L.A. Lakers in Beijing. Sitting next to him was friend and former Chinese teammate Sun Yue.

October 15, 2013 - Yao Ming watches an NBA preseason game in Beijing with friend Sun Yue

Yao ran into good friend Steve Nash at the game…

October 15, 2013 - Yao Ming and Steve Nash greet each other at a preseason game in Beijing

A couple of days later, Yao went to join the LA Lakers at an NBA Cares activity as well as an Open Day fan gathering at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre. Just like in Taipei, the target group for the NBA Cares activity was also 60 kids from the Chinese Special Olympics team.

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and all the LA Lakers players were there to teach the kids basketball fundamentals.

October 16, 2013 - Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant participate in an NBA Cares event with Special Olympics athletes in Shanghai

October 16, 2013 - Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant in Shanghai

Click here for more photos of Yao with Kobe, and other pics from the NBA Cares event in Shanghai.

Video highlights from Jeremy’s Lin-credible game in Taiwan

October 16th, 2013
by John

In case you missed Jeremy’s game in Taipei, Taiwan, we have put together a highlight reel from his incredible game against the Pacers on Sunday. I love the reactions from the crowd!

And here is a clip of Jeremy checking out of the game to a rousing ovation…

Yao meets up with Jeremy and Rockets in Taiwan

October 14th, 2013
by John

This past weekend Yao went to Taipei to meet up with Jeremy Lin and the Rockets since they were in town to play the Indiana Pacers for a preseason game on Sunday, October 13th. Below are just a small sample of photos that are in the forum.

Here is Yao with Jeremy at a welcome reception on Friday…

October 11, 2013 - Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin at a Welcome Reception as part of the 2013 Global Games at the Regent Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan

It looks like Jeremy was able to get out and do some shopping without being swamped since he was in disguise…

October 12, 2013 - Jeremy Lin in disguise in the streets of Taipei

But it looks like a couple of people identified him and were able to get a pic with him…

October 12, 2013 - Jeremy Lin with two fans in the streets of Taipei

The next day, Yao, Jeremy and other Rocket players participated in an activity with mentally and physically disabled children who were part of the Chinese Taipei Special Olympics team…

October 12th, 2013 - Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin speak to Special Olympics athletes in Taiwan, Taipei

October 12, 2013 - Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming at an NBA Cares Special Olympics Clinic in Taipei, Taiwan

October 12, 2013 - Jeremy Lin with Special Olympics kids in Taipei, Taiwan

Click here for more photos of Rockets with the Special Olympics kids

Yao was able to take some shots, like old times (Clyde Drexler and Robert Horry were also there)…

October 12th, 2013 -- Yao Ming shoots a hook shot in Taipei, Taiwan

October 12th, 2013 - Yao Ming shoots a hook shot in Taipei, Taiwan

Later that night, Yao and the Rockets attended a fancy party at the Okura Prestige in Taipei. Below Yao shows how much he dwarfs Dwight Howard

October 12th, 2013 - Yao Ming and Dwight Howard at a private party in Taipei, Taiwan

Click here for more photos from the party where it looks like a great time was had by many of the Rocket players, and even GM Daryl Morey.

Prior to joining his teammates at the Okura Prestige, Jeremy attended the premiere of his movie “Linsanity” in Taiwan….

October 12th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin appears at the premiere of Linsanity the movie in Taipei, Taiwan

October 12th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin appears at the premiere of Linsanity the movie in Taipei, Taiwan

October 12th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin appears at the premiere of Linsanity the movie in Taipei, Taiwan

A few days before on October 7th, the Rockets arrived in Manila to play their first preseason game against the Pacers (click here for more photos from their time in Manila)…

James Harden getting off the plane…

October 7, 2013 - James Harden gets off the plane in Manila, The Philippines

Jeremy takes a photo of fans who waited for him and the Rockets at the airport in Manila…

October 7, 2013 - Jeremy Lin takes a photo of fans at the airport in Manila, The Philippines

Jeremy sits on a jeepney…

October 7, 2013 - Jeremy Lin sits on a jeepney in Manila, The Philippines

Jeremy is surrounded by a throng of media at their practice court…

October 7, 2013 - Jeremy Lin is surrounded by media in Manila, The Philippines

Click here for more photos of the Rockets in Manila.

Here’s a clip of Rockets head coach Kevin McHale’s comments about Jeremy Lin after his game in Manila in which the Rockets beat the Pacers…

Yao featured in “Linsanity” movie that opens this Friday, Oct. 4th, in several cities

October 1st, 2013
by John

In case you didn’t know, Jeremy Lin’s movie “Linsanity” opens this Friday, October 4th, in select cities, including Houston (of course). We understand that Yao is prominently featured in the film and makes the most poignant statement in the film (near the end) that is very emotional.

Jeremy was covered by the filmmaker before Linsanity ever took the world by storm, dating back to his days at Palo Alto High School, then Harvard, then on to Golden State and New York. So it’s not like this is just a film with highlights and news coverage. You get to see what it was like when not many people knew who he was. Here’s a review of the film from ESPN’s Truehoop blog.

Here’s a link to the official movie site. You can see a few cities where it will be playing on this page, which include Chicago, L.A., New York, San Diego, San Francisco, DC, Seattle, Boston, Honolulu, Philadelphia, and even in Taiwan.

Here’s a link to the official Facebook page. And here’s a link to the promotional video on Youtube, or you can watch the embedded version below:

If you’re in Houston, here are the theaters where it will be playing:

1) Sundance Cinema at 510 Texas Ave – [link: click on “Buy Tickets” link on the left]

2) AMC Studio 30 at 2949 Dunvale Ave – [link to Oct. 4th tickets]

Make sure to go see the movie within a week of the Friday, October 4th release date since it’s only a one-week run at both theaters. There is a chance it could be extended another week, but go see it the first week just in case.

Tribute to Yao on his 33rd birthday: Top 10 NBA Moments

September 15th, 2013
by John

On Yao’s 33rd birthday three days ago (September 12th), Dime Magazine took us back to the good ol’ days by recapping Yao’s Top 10 NBA Moments.

Although I would have a couple of other games in there, they do a great job describing many of them, as well as including video clips from some of his best games. Watching these videos really helps you remember how dominant Yao was. Enjoy!

On birthday, Yao films PSA with Prince William and David Beckham

September 14th, 2013
by John

Thursday was Yao’s 33rd birthday, and he spent his day filming part of a public service announcement (PSA) in London with Prince William and David Beckham to campaign against illegal wildlife products.

September 12th, 2013 - Yao Ming with Prince William filming a PSA in London for WildAid

September 12th, 2013 - Prince William and David Beckham film a PSA in London for WildAid

September 12th, 2013 - Yao Ming, Prince William, and David Beckham film a PSA in London for WildAid

The messages will be broadcast globally in November but their target audiences are in China and Vietnam, countries which have large markets for products like rhino horn and ivory.

David Beckham told reporters:

“When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message out.

“It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes.”

Yao said:

“We must reduce demand if we are going to save these animals.

“We made tremendous progress reducing demand for shark fin soup through a similar campaign and a government ban at banquets is also helping.

“Traders say shark fin demand has been cut by 50% or more. I hope we can do the same for ivory and rhino horn.”

Prince William later said at a conservation awards dinner:

“It is unfathomable to imagine a world in which children who have been born in the past couple of months may grow up in a world in which rhinoceros have ceased to live in the wild.

“The possibility of extinction is bad enough for one of our children growing up here in the West, who will never experience the magic of seeing a rhino; or even for my own little George, who Catherine and I very much hope to introduce to east Africa – a place we know and love – in the fullness of time.

“But for a child growing up in Africa and whose birth-right and economic inheritance these creatures are, it is nothing more than immoral that he or she may never experience what his parents and grandparents knew and treasured.””

A WildAid spokesman cited some alarming statistics:

“The ivory trade claims the lives of an estimated 25,000 elephants annually and according to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, as of September 5 at least 618 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2013, which may break last year’s record of 668 poached rhinos later this month.”

After the filming in London, Yao flew to Kenya to continue filming PSAs for WildAid.

A couple of weeks prior, Yao and his wife Ye Li participated in another public service event when he attended the premiere of a short film that they appeared in to warn the public against driving under the influence of alcohol. Click here for photos from the event.

August 25th, 2013 - Yao Ming attends a short film premiere that stars him and his wife Ye Li

The film was produced by the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau Traffic Police Corps, Chinese Wine Association and Anheuser-Busch InBev together.

AB InBev in a statement describes the film as, “Riding a light, humorous tone, the film tells how Yao, who plays the role of a designated driver, has to deal with a series of bad consequences from outsourcing his job on his wedding anniversary.”

What impressed Yao about his wife Ye Li in the film was not her acting ability, but the fact that she looks so great wearing makeup in the film, which she rarely has to do in her everyday life.

Yao said, “She looks gorgeous.”

Click here to see the short film.