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Video: Yao Ming Jersey Retirement Ceremony

Friday, 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

Saturday, January 28th, 2017
by John


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’s 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 video interview with Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
by John

Check out this video with Yao posted yesterday where he talks about his busy life in retirement, including his involvement with conservation efforts…

For more information on the Yao Foundation and its new conservation initiatives, click here.

Yao to study at prestigious Shanghai university

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
by John

We had reported several weeks ago when Yao retired that he was considering going back to college. Well, news came out today that Yao will be enrolling in classes at Shanghai Jiaotong University starting in October.

But due to Yao’s popularity and the disruption to other students it may cause, Yao won’t be actually returning to the the classroom. Instead under special arrangements, professors will go to his home or Yao will visit his professors’ homes for 1-on-1 lectures. Yao hasn’t picked a major yet.

Click here for more details.

Yao gets rave reviews for his TV announcing

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
by John

China Daily has an interesting piece on how well Yao’s sports commentating has been received on CCTV during the FIBA Asian Championships.

Qi Xin, chief of the CCTV crew that’s broadcasting the event, credits Yao with a spike in the tournament’s ratings.

September 22, 2011 - Yao Ming announces for CCTV during the FIBA Asian Championships

“He’s made a big difference,” Qi told the Basketball Pioneer. “He’s definitely attracted eyeballs. Audiences always want to hear him. No matter what he says, it will become a headline.

For more of the reviews Yao is getting for his basketball commentating, click here for the full article.

Video of Yao’s first interview since his retirement

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
by John

Yahoo Sports yesterday released a series of videos that is an in-depth interview of Yao Ming in Shanghai, the first interview he has given since his retirement.

Below is the main interview that has been edited for brevity. Although it’s good (and long at 23 minutes, with a couple of commercials inserted), if you really want to get into all of the details, you should watch every clip below the first one because the description “full episode” is a misnomer — there is more detail in each of the 16 videos that follow. Yes, 16 videos. Wow!

This by far is the best interview I’ve ever seen of Yao on video. I give alot of credit to interviewer Graham Bensinger for living up to the name of his show — “In Depth.” For long-time Yao fans, many of Bensinger’s questions might seem basic that you already know the answers to, but I did learn a few things, which made them worth watching.

I put some notes under each video as an indicator of what’s discussed in the clip, but it’s not an all-inclusive list.

Yao on his retirement decision (8:20)

– The first people he told about retiring was his parents and his wife. He was tired of the rehab and the injuries. He decided to retire near the end of February for his long-term health.
– He said his left foot is obviously weaker than his right foot, and it would never have gotten back to how it was originally.
– He will still workout on the basketball court at the Shanghai Sharks’ facility.
– He obviously didn’t achieve his basketball goals, with one being not winning an NBA championship, but he can still build his Sharks.
– He said his doctors say he could probably play another two or three years, but there is no guarantee he wouldn’t get injured again, so he chooses to protect his health.

His new life after retirement (7:50)

– He said he is “getting fat” (has added about 20-30 pounds) but because he is so large, it doesn’t show very much. He hasn’t worked out much since his retirement, but is thinking of working out hard again.
– He has been focusing on his team (the Sharks), some businesses, and his Foundation. He spent about 15-16 hours over a two-day period with his Foundation team, who are businessmen. He isn’t accustomed to long meetings like that, but his business people didn’t think it was that long.
– Houston was the right team for him. He feels “very warm” to them.
– He worked very hard in Houston because he felt his coaches and teammates had his “back” and were willing to protect him.
– He retired in Shanghai because he played 5 years there, and grew up there.
– He needs to give himself a “new target to pursue,” which is his Foundation and the Sharks. He’s also thinking of going back to college since he left school at 17, and didn’t have a chance to finish high school. He thinks that “going back to training my brain is very important.”

Fears of playing in the NBA (16:58)

– “I’m scared when I was coming over to the United States.” He had heard how physical the league was, it sounded like it was “wrestling on the court,” and that he might have gotten hurt in a very short time.
– When he was at the Shanghai airport about to leave for Houston, he was strongly tempted to turn around and go back to the Sharks. “I’m not going to lie and say I liked the challenge” but “I know when I put myself in that position, I would like to do that job.”
– Kelvin Cato, his former teammate, was a very physical player to practice against, both physically and mentally.
– The Rockets had a Chinese professor from the University of Houston help him transition to life in the U.S. “I think she did well…after awhile, I become like one of them. It didn’t take long.” (laughing)
– He talks about when he first met Colin Pine, his translator, at the airport.
– He started learning English around the 10th grade, so he had studied it for 10 years before coming to the U.S. But it wasn’t normal, everyday English that you would use in the U.S. He did learn “basketball English” though, like ‘pick-and-roll,’ etc.
– He wanted an interpreter the first two years since he was afraid he wouldn’t understand reporters’ questions and he didn’t want to give the wrong answer back to them.
– It was embarrassing when he scored no points in his NBA debut.
– Even backup players in the NBA can be good teachers.
– Before his breakout game against the Lakers when he scored 20 points, he had scrimmaged with his Rocket teammates at the UCLA facility and scored the last few baskets to help the 2nd team (the team he was on) beat the first team. He knew then that he was on the verge of breaking out (which he did shortly thereafter).
– He doesn’t like the “Yao Ming” song at all. It was too repetitive, and he tries to keep himself low-key. When he heard the song while he was playing, he just told himself to focus.
– His favorite commercial he did was the Apple one with Mini-Me.
– When things got hectic with off-the-court responsibilities, he ultimately found his peace on the basketball court.

Yao Ming on Shaq: He makes you lose sleep (3:03)

– He wasn’t nervous the first time he played Shaq because he didn’t know what to expect, and he wasn’t going to stress out about it. But he got nervous before he played him the second time because he knew how strong and powerful he was.
– He has a photo of himself and 5’5″ Earl Boykins trying to block each other out after a free throw attempt, and both of them are wearing #11 on their jersey. He thought that had to mean something.

21 and Frustrated (3:43)

– When he learned he couldn’t come over to the U.S. and play in the NBA in 2001, he was pretty frustrated (he had to wait until 2002).
– He knew the CBA (China Basketball Association) wouldn’t stop him from going to the NBA in 2002.

The Pressure Playing for Chinese Pride (4:15)

– Yao talks about the pressure he faced representing China on the basketball court, but he didn’t let it get to him, but it did motivate him.
– The movie theater is only 300 meters from his house, but he can’t go to it because he would be swarmed by fans When he does go out, he tries to go out at night.
– If he could be anonymous for one day, he would just want to walk the streets of Shanghai with his daughter and wife and do normal stuff like go get ice cream.

Inside Yao Ming’s China (5:49)

– They show video of Yao’s first home, school, and basketball playground. Yao recounts his memories of those places. He talks about missing his first shot when he was a kid, which was unexpected from his friends because they knew he was the child of two parents who had played basketball professionally in China. He went back to that same playground in 2004 when the Rockets were playing a preseason game there. He took his coach Jeff Van Gundy with him, and the first time he tried to shoot the ball (child-size), he missed again! Van Gundy made fun of him, telling him “Some things never change.”
– They show a video and talk about the facility where he practiced as a young professional and a Shanghai Shark for 8 years starting in March 1994 when he was only 14 years old. They also show the Internet cafe he used to visit, one of the few places where he could go and relax after practicing, and the arena where the Sharks played.

Racial slur mix-up (7:25)

– You’ll have to watch this one to hear what it’s all about!
– His favorite American slang word is “Yo,” and his favorite American food is Philly cheese steak.
– In China, when you say “cheers” with a drink, you’re supposed to drink it all right there. That gets you drunk pretty fast.
– He likes video games because the person you’re playing doesn’t know who you are. He still plays World of Warcraft. But he doesn’t really have much time to play those games any more.
– They talk about his experience with cars in the U.S.

Moving in with my parents at age 22 (3:45)

– Living with his parents his first few years in the NBA wasn’t difficult. He wanted a safe place and someone he could talk to.
– He laughs about he bought his first home in Houston before he even got his first paycheck. Kind of risky. The only thing he didn’t plan on was how it took an hour drive to get to the arena.
– He likes his house to be next to water since it’s more peaceful.

Is he injury prone? (5:13)

– He thought in 2009 if they had been able to beat the Lakers (he got injured during this series), he thinks they had a pretty good chance to win the championship.
– He thinks his weight (which he couldn’t change) and the high arch in his foot put alot of stress on his navicular bone because there is not much blood supply to it if he gets injured.
– Yao describes the surgery he had to reconstruct his foot. They had to break his big toe so his foot could better take the stress. The surgery took about 5 hours. He didn’t want to use painkillers too much, but he did a couple of times.
– He said if he had gotten more free time to rest, it probably would have helped him. But his Chinese national team commitment is not something he could have “gotten rid of.” When he wore the Chinese jersey, he felt like it was a shield and that it made you invincible.

Yao Ming’s favorite basketball moments (5:25)

– The game against Slovenia in 2006 in the World Championships was one of his most memorable games when China won on a buzzer-beating shot. Also, the game that got the Rockets into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in years, and the victory that got the Chinese National Team in the Olympics.
– When he was carrying the Chinese flag into the Beijing Olympic stadium, he could feel the 1.3 billion Chinese people he was representing.

I’m deaf in one ear (12:32)

– When he was 8 years old, he had a fever for about a week, and they found out there was a problem with his kidneys. He had some allergic reactions to penicillin.
– They talk about the attention he got after he was born because his parents played basketball, as well as the decision his parents had to make in sending him to a sports academy versus an academically focused one. His parents let him go to the sports academy because he wanted to go there.
– He would never go back to the schedule he had where he had to train 8-10 hours per day. He goes into detail about the schedule he had in the academy.
– Playing basketball wasn’t as much fun at first, but started getting more fun as time went by. He thought of quitting because it was so time-consuming and he had other interests, but his mother told him if he quit, he would have to come back home, and he didn’t want to do that.
– It used to be about how big you were, but the Chinese are aware they need to find smaller players who can handle the ball, shoot the ball with a quick release, etc.
– He thought 1997 was his breakout moment in a national game in Shanghai.

Training in the NBA is a science (6:40)

– In the CBA, their training program is not that great. It’s just very basic.
– In his first year under Jeff Van Gundy, he tried to get Yao to become more physical. Not get around something, but go through them.
– He didn’t mind the drudgery of repetition. He actually enjoyed it because every time he did it, it would help him, and he enjoyed the sound of the ball going through the net and the squeak of his shoes on the floor.
– If he went more than a couple of days without playing basketball, he got a little itchy.
– He learned to shoot from a chair in China to improve the arch on his shot.

Yao Ming’s mission to educate children in China (6:02)

– You can do little things every day to make a difference instead of doing one big thing, and then taking the rest of the year off.
– Over the past three years his Foundation has helped build 7 schools in rural western China. Each school has about 200 kids. Five more schools should be completed this year.
– It’s easier to work on his Foundation in China than it is from the U.S.

Yao Ming on his new baby (3:02)

– It’s very exciting to have a new baby. It’s so different.
– We want her to let her choose her own future.
– His wife has always been someone he could lean on.

“China is changing” (4:05)

– 30 years ago it was unheard of for someone to be able to make a million dollars per year, or per month. It used to be that everyone needed to make the same.
– The biggest area of improvement needed is with inflation. China has limited resources.

Yao withdraws name from Hall of Fame consideration

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
by John

Yao has asked the Naismith Hall of Fame to withdraw his name from consideration for entry into the prestigious fraternity. There are two ways a player can be nominated: either as a player, requiring a 5-year wait before being nominated, or as a “contributor” to the game, which requires no wait at all.

Obviously, Yao has a great chance of being selected as a contributor because of the barriers he overcame coming from China to become an elite NBA player.

A member of the Chinese media had nominated Yao, but Yao asked his agent John Huizinga to contact the Hall of Fame to have his name withdrawn.

This doesn’t surprise me since Yao is so humble, and if he is going to get into the Hall of Fame, he is in no rush to get there.

Click here for the news story that provides more details.

Yao honored by three Chinese sports associations

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
by John

It’s not much of a surprise, but it was confirmed Yao will not be playing for the Chinese National Team again, including the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Bummer for Chinese hoops fans.

On a lighter note, Yao received many awards from various Chinese sports groups a couple of days ago at a ceremony in Beijing attended by about 200 people.

July 25th, 2011 - Yao Ming receives a jersey with his old number on it

July 25th, 2011 - Yao Ming speaks at a CBA ceremony that honored him

Many top sports officials were there as well as some of Yao’s former coaches from the Chinese National Team. Yao received the following awards:

– The State General Administration of Sports awarded him with a Sports Honorary Medal
– The Chinese Olympic Committee awarded him with a Chinese Olympic Gold Medal
– The Chinese Basketball Association awarded him the China Award for Outstanding Contribution to Basketball, and made him an Honorary National Team member for Life (which is stitched on to the jersey above)

Click here for more photos from the event and Raymond’s report in the forum.

Video of Yao and Colin Pine (former translator) from the retirement announcement

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
by John

Many of you perhaps saw the photo on Wednesday we posted of Yao Ming’s old friend and translator Colin Pine at the retirement announcement press conference. If you weren’t aware, Yao asked Pine to translate his words into English for him (so that Yao wouldn’t have to repeat himself in English). You can see the entire press conference video on NBA.com by clicking here.

July 20th, 2011 - Yao Ming and Colin Pine at Yao's retirement press announcement

It was great to see the two sitting together again, just like old times when Pine translated for Yao during his first couple of seasons in the NBA. Pine has been living and working in Shanghai the past few years.

Pine later was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal’s China blog, which you can check out here. In this blog post, Pine responds to several questions, including how he was touched that Yao asked him to translate for him at the press conference, which he wasn’t expecting.

“Team Yao’s” Bill Sanders reflects on his time with Yao

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
by John

Since Yao confirmed his retirement on Wednesday, many pieces have been written about Yao Ming’s career. YaoMingMania has been directing you to some of these items, and came across a few more that stand out above the rest.

The first is this blog post from one of two Americans who probably has known Yao longer than any other American: “Team Yao” member Bill Sanders, Chief Marketing Officer for Bill Duffy & Associates (a.k.a. BDA Sports), which represents some of the NBA’s top players.

Sanders blogs about the current mood at BDA’s offices around Yao’s retirement, the time he first met Yao in China back in 2000, what it was like during the whirlwind days of Yao’s first couple of years in the NBA (which YaoMingMania covered in detail back then), and much more. Check it out here.

Sanders also tweeted about this insightful article from the LA Times about how Yao’s retirement will leave China with a gaping void in their international “charm campaign,” and this NY Times article about the state and future of Chinese basketball with Yao now retired.

All we can say is that China has alot of work to do to make up for the loss of Yao from the world basketball stage.