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

Jeremy Lin plays soccer with Steve Nash

July 23rd, 2013
by John

Last week Jeremy Lin participated in the Steve Nash Foundation Charity Game (soccer), played July 14th in Los Angeles.

July 15th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin practices in front of Steve Nash at Nash's Foundation charity match

July 15th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin defends Steve Nash at Nash's Foundation charity match

Jeremy was among a group of NBA players (like Jared Dudley, Klay Thompson), soccer stars (Robbie Rogers, Robbie Keane), and NBA writers (Marc Stein) invited to play soccer to raise money for Nash’s foundation.

But according to Orange County Register reporter Kevin Ding, the Rockets didn’t approve of Lin playing in the soccer match because of the risk involved, so he played for only a few minutes (for both teams).

However, Lin showed that he had some soccer skills by getting an assist to Klay Thompson for an opening goal. Nash’s team ended up beating Rogers’ team 5-4 with Nash scoring the winning goal.

Click here for more pics from the event.

Lots of pics of Dwight and Yao from presser, fan rally

July 15th, 2013
by John

You have probably seen some of the coverage from Saturday’s press conference and fan rally of Dwight Howard becoming a Houston Rocket, but it’s still worthy of covering here on YaoMania.

Yao was there to welcome him into the “Legacy of Bigs” in Houston. Below are some pics, along with links to more photos and slideshows.

July 13, 2013 - Yao Ming sits among former Rocket greats and current Rocket Chandler Parsons (at end)

July 13, 2013 - Yao Ming shares a laugh with Clyde Drexler at the Dwight Howard press conference

July 13, 2013 - Yao Ming stands behind Dwight Howard as he holds up his jersey.  Former Rocket Calvin Murphy looks on.

July 13, 2013 - Dwight Howard poses at his press conference with former Rocket players, including Yao Ming

July 13, 2013 - Yao Ming stands behind Dwight Howard as he shakes hands with a press conference attendee

July 13, 2013 - Yao Ming pictured with former Rocket big men Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes with Dwight Howard at center

July 13, 2013 - A reported crowd of 10,000 people show up for the Dwight Howard welcome rally
Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

July 13, 2013 - Dwight Howard takes a photo of the crowd that came to greet him at his welcome rally
Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

July 13, 2013 - Yao stands behind Dwight Howard outside Toyota Center at his welcome rally

July 13, 2013 - Dwight Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon raise their hands to the crowd outside Toyota Center at Howard's welcome rally

July 13, 2013 - A big poster entitled "Legacy of Bigs" is revealed to the crowd outside Toyota Center

If you want to see more slideshows from Saturday’s events, click here, here and here (courtesy Rockets.com, Sports790.com and the Houston Chronicle).

Yao flies to Houston; will attend Dwight Howard press conference

July 11th, 2013
by John

Yao has planned for awhile to fly from Beijing to Houston on Air China’s inaugural non-stop flight between the two cities, only the 4th U.S. city that Air China now flies non-stop from Beijing, behind New York, L.A. and San Francisco. So it’s kind of a big deal.

Since Yao is a goodwill ambassador for Houston, it made sense for Air China to invite him to fly on their first flight to Houston from Beijing. So this trip has obviously been planned for quite some time. But it’s great timing since Yao will be able to attend Dwight Howard’s first press conference on Saturday welcoming him as a Houston Rocket. That should be a pretty cool press conference since we understand Hakeem Olajuwon will also be there. Nice touch by these Rocket legends to be there to welcome Dwight to Houston.

Below are some photos that Raymond posted in the forum of Yao at the ceremony at the Beijing airport before he departed on his flight to Houston.

July 11th, 2013 - Yao Ming signs a model Air China plane before departing on its inaugural flight from Beijing to Houston

July 11th, 2013 - Yao Ming poses with Air China personnel before departing on the airline's inaugural flight between Beijing and Houston

July 11th, 2013 - Yao Ming takes photos before departing on the airline's inaugural flight between Beijing and Houston

Click here for more photos from the Air China ceremony.

Pics from Yao’s charity game in Beijing and the events beforehand

July 3rd, 2013
by John

On Monday night in Beijing, Yao’s Foundation had another charity game (more details of who it benefits are here) where NBA players like Joakim Noah, Luis Scola, Metta World Peace, Kyle Lowry, Ricky Rubio and others played the Chinese National Team. Published reports like this one revealed that Yao called Noah and MWP personally, not an assistant, to invite them to play.

Below are some photos from the night. Here’s a video that recaps some of the game, and Slam Online’s coverage of the game.

July 1st, 2013 - Yao Ming shoots some baskets before the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

Popular Brazilian soccer superstar Kaka of Real Madrid made an appearance and spoke to the crowd beforehand, and also talked with Yao. Since Kaka is a soccer ambassador for Brazil, he had flown to Beijing to promote an upcoming exhibition match between the Brazilian and Chinese national teams in September at the “Bird’s Nest.”

July 1st, 2013 - Brazilian soccer star says a few words to the crowd in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Brazilian soccer star Kaka talks to Yao at the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Joakim Noah throws down a dunk during the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Joakim Noah plays defense in the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - George Hill dribbles toward the basket in the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Metta World Peace puts up a shot with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady looking on

July 1st, 2013 - Luis Scola puts up a shot in the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Ricky Rubio dribbles in the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

Tracy McGrady happened to be touring in China and had just flown in from Changsha, so he was too tired to play, but he did act as the “assistant coach” of Yao’s team.

July 1st, 2013 - Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady watch the action as coaches in the Yao Foundation charity game in Beijing

July 1st, 2013 - Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady cheer on their team of young players in the 3rd quarter of the Yao Foundation charity game

Click here for more photos and details of the game, thanks to Raymond in the forum.

On Sunday night, the night before the game, Yao held a charity gala event sponsored by the Thaihot Group, a conglomerate in residential and commercial real estate development, chemicals, mining, finance and securities, and bio-medicine. The charity gala was held outdoor in Thaihot’s mega-project Courtyards by the Canal.

June 30th, 2013 - The setting of the Yao Foundation charity gala in Beijing

June 30th, 2013 - Yao Ming on stage at his Foundation's charity gala in Beijing

Click here for more photos of Yao and other NBA players at the charity gala.

Earlier in the day on Sunday, Yao and Joakim Noah visited a primary school for children of migrant workers in the Changping District in Beijing.

June 30th, 2012 - Yao Ming and Joakim Noah visit a  primary school for children of migrant workers at Changping District in Beijing

June 30th, 2012 - Joakim Noah meets children at a primary school for children of migrant workers at Changping District in Beijing

June 30th, 2012 - Joakim Noah puts up a shot at primary school for children of migrant workers at Changping District in Beijing

June 30th, 2012 - Yao Ming and Joakim Noah visit a  primary school for children of migrant workers at Changping District in Beijing

Yao and Joakim split themselves up into teams with the school children to see which team could make the most layups. Yao’s team lost, so Yao had to pay up on a bet and do push-ups.

June 30th, 2013 - Yao Ming does push-ups after his team loses a bet on which team could make the most layups.

Click here to see more photos of Yao and Joakim’s visit to the school, and here for a video of some of their visit.

Yao’s wife Ye Li and daughter Amy also visited the primary school with Yao and Joakim. Click here for lots more photos of Yao’s wife and daughter.

June 30th, 2013 - Yao Ming's wife Ye Li and baby daughter Amy visits a primary school with Yao Ming and Joakim Noah

Before the weekend’s events, the Yao Foundation had a drawing for all ticket buyers where the winner would get their tickets delivered personally by Yao Ming himself. That’s exactly what happened on Thursday, June 27th. Check out the photos of below of Yao delivering the tickets and visiting with the winner.

June 27th, 2013 - Yao Ming delivers the tickets to the winner of a ticket lottery for his Foundation's charity game a few days later

June 27th, 2013 - Yao Ming visits with the winners of a ticket lottery

Click here for more photos of Yao visiting the winner of the tickets in his home.

Yao Foundation to hold another charity game with NBA players next Monday in Beijing

June 24th, 2013
by John

The Yao Foundation will be holding another charity game this coming Monday, July 1st in Beijing at the Mastercard Centre, where the 2008 Beijing Olympic basketball games were played.

June 2013 - the poster for the Yao Foundation charity game to be played in Beijing 2013 July 1st, 2013

So far five NBA players have committed to playing in the game against the Chinese National Team as the Chinese prepare for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship to be played in Manila in early August. The NBA players who have committed to play on the “Yao Foundation” team are Joakim Noah, Metta World Peace, Kyle Lowry, George Hill, and Luis Scola.

You might remember that the Yao Foundation hosted two charity games 3 summers ago, one game played in Beijing and the other game in Taipei, which turned out to be very entertaining and successful in raising money to fund Yao Foundation charity initiatives.

The proceeds of this charity game will fund this year’s “Yao Foundation Hope Primary School Basketball Season” project, as well as funding the travel and expenses of school children of the Hope Primary Schools in poverty-stricken areas (and the Ya’an earthquake stricken area) to participate in the Yao Foundation Hope Primary School basketball season.

Pics of Yao, wife and daughter at ice skating show

June 20th, 2013
by John

Late last week Yao attended the “Artistry on Ice” show in Shanghai, which featured some of the top figure skaters in the world. This was Yao’s third consecutive year to attend the show, and he came with his wife Ye Li, actor and friend Deng Chao, and his daughter Amy (pictured at the bottom right).

June 14th, 2013 - Yao Ming attends the Artistry on Ice show in Shanghai with his family

This was the first time that Amy had been seen in public with his parents since Yao’s retirement from the NBA two years ago. She is growing up fast!

After the show, Yao went backstage to meet some of the skaters, like Canada’s Kurt Browning, who was the World Champion from 1989-1991 and 1993.

June 14th, 2013 - Yao Ming with figure skater Kurt Browning

And checkout this photo of Yao with flamboyant American skater Johnny Weir.

June 14th, 2013 - Yao Ming with figure skater Johnny Weir

Click here for more photos of Yao with his family, Yao with some of the skaters, and scenes from the show.

Yao still a force, interviewed at Fortune Global Forum

June 9th, 2013
by John

Yao Ming was in esteemed company Saturday, June 8th, when he was interviewed on stage at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China. Here’s a transcript of the interview.

When asked who he thought would win the NBA Finals, Yao diplomatically skirted answering the question, but he did say he was a Spurs fan. This is probably due to him playing the Spurs so many times over his 8-year career — he can’t help but respect how they play the game.

June 8th, 2013 - Yao Ming is interviewed at the Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China

It just goes to show that even though Yao retired a few years ago, he still remains a global force as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and de facto ambassador for China.

As the Fortune web site describes, the Fortune Global Forum is the highest-level place for multinational CEOs—and the heads of China’s most important companies— to gain visibility into the emerging new trends, and meet the people that are shaping “China’s New Future.” It represents an unparalleled opportunity to build the key relationships and obtain insights that are vital to positioning multinational companies for long-term success, in China and on a global basis.

Here’s a list of all the speakers at the Global Forum. Pretty impressive names there.

Video: Yao’s conversation with Jay Williams last Friday

February 19th, 2013
by John

You might remember my post from a couple days ago where I posted some photos of Yao having a conversation with Jay Williams at the Asia Society of Texas located in Houston.

Well, the good folks at the Asia Society posted a video of almost the entire interview, which is very informational, as well as humorous! Click here to check it out, and consider joining the Asia Society — their mission is a very worthy one.

Yao’s whirlwind Friday in Houston [lots of pics]

February 17th, 2013
by John

I didn’t think that Yao’s busy Thursday schedule could be topped on Friday, but it did. So much happened, it took me a day to go through all of the photos (after my machine crashed and took me all day to fix). Below is my report from Yao’s activities in Houston on Friday.

Yao first started the day by making an appearance at the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston where he participated in a luncheon limited to about 40 guests (to keep it very intimate) who purchased premium tickets to benefit the Asia Society to have a great lunch, and hear Yao be interviewed by Jay Williams. Williams was the player chosen #2 in the 2002 NBA Draft right after Yao was selected #1 by the Rockets. Williams is now an analyst for ESPN.

Below are some photos from the event. Also served was Yao Ming’s Cabernet Sauvignon from his Yao Family Wines winery.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming has lunch with Jay Williams before their interview starts at The Asia Society of Texas in Houston

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming has some laughs with Jay Williams at The Asia Society of Texas in Houston

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming has a conversation with Jay Williams in front of a small gathering at The Asia Society of Texas in Houston

If you want to get a good idea of some of what Yao discussed with Jay, you can check out this video of Yao that was filmed a few days before the luncheon.

There were many funny moments as Yao shared his dry wit with the audience. But one of the most touching moments of the discussion happened at the end when Williams corrected an earlier statement of Yao’s when Yao said that every NBA player is unique. Williams begged to differ, telling the audience that Yao is not only unique because of his talent, but because of his character as well.

Immediately after the luncheon, Yao went to the 5th Ward in Houston where the NBA was holding one of two events where NBA players in town for the All-Star game could help out in the community.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming paints a bench at the NBA Day of Service in Houston

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming helps put together a slide at the NBA Day of Service in Houston

One of the funniest moments occurred when Dikembe Mutombo walked up and told some of the organizers and pointed to a project nearby that Yao should be working on because it was more difficult than the “easy” one he was working on.

February 15th, 2013 - Dikembe Mutombo tells some volunteers that Yao needs to do something more difficult than what he's currently doing

Yao then moved over to help some other volunteers move a Jungle Jim that had just been assembled to a spot where it would be permanently placed. On his way over, he physically bumped into Tim Duncan (not pictured) from behind, which kind of surprised him, but was funny.

A few minutes later, Yao ran into Kobe Bryant and they exchanged a few pleasantries. Bryant seemed really happy to see Yao. That says a ton about how loved Yao is among his former competitors. It’s also refreshing to see a serious superstar like Bryant get a big smile on his face like this one that you rarely see from him.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant meet briefly at the NBA Day of Service in Houston

It was at this event where I witnessed that people in Houston still go crazy when they see Yao. It’s really interesting to see how they react when they see him. The looks of awe on their faces when they see how big he is in person — or the smiles he brings to their faces — is amazing.

But unlike just a few years ago, it seems like just about everyone has a camera in their cellphone now. As a result, Yao is crowded by even more people because they all want a photo of him, and he was getting requests from tons of people (non NBA players) to have their photo taken with him.

To make things worse, many times the requestors would hand their camera phone to someone else to take their photo, but then that person has trouble understanding what button they needed to push on the phone to take the picture, thus making things very awkward and frustrating for people like me who want Yao to be able to move about freely in his life without being a walking tourist attraction.

Poor Yao. He handles it so well, but I just wish more people would respect his space, just wave hello to him, and not get so enamored taking a photo with him using their camera phones. I also wish some of the media wouldn’t keep asking him the same dumb questions that he’s probably answered a million times, like the question he was asked, “How does it feel to give back to the community?’

Yao obliged as much as he could with all of these requests, but it really was too much since it slowed him from moving more than a few feet without getting hit up for another request.

Finally, Yao’s final stop for the day was at Houston’s City Hall where he was officially proclaimed a Goodwill Ambassador for the City of Houston by the mayor. I was able to get some cool photos of Yao walking in downtown Houston and in front of City Hall in the city that has embraced him since 2002.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming walks along the streets of downtown Houston

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming walks along the streets of downtown Houston and stops at City Hall

Yao then went inside City Hall where a throng of reporters, photographers and videographers were waiting for him to cover the ceremonial event. Check out the dozen or so cameraman in the back of the room that were there to cover it. You would think that this photo was taken in Shanghai or Beijing with all the media that was there!

February 15th, 2013 - the Houston media covers the mayor proclaiming that Yao is a goodwill ambassador for the City of Houston, and receiving a key to the city

Below Yao and the mayor talk as Rockets’ TV commentator Bill Worrell is about to start his opening remarks.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming speaks with Houston Mayor Annise Parker before being presented a proclamation as well as a key to the city

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming is presented a key to the city with his mother and father standing by his side

This presentation was a much bigger deal than you would first think since the mayor, Annise Parker, said she purposely has never given a key to the city to anyone since she has been mayor over the past 3 years! She takes it very seriously, but she knew Yao was a worthy recipient since she knows he will represent the city well.

Check out some video here of the mayor’s remarks.

A sweet impromptu moment occurred when a little girl of Asian descent (not pictured) in a Houston Rockets jersey brought a bouquet of flowers up to Yao while he was on stage. Yao holds the bouquet in the photo below.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming holds a bouquet of flowers given to him by a little girl at the City of Houston ceremony honoring him

Yao and his parents later signed a large poster of Yao.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming and his parents sign a poster of Yao in a Rockets uniform

Afterwards, the media surrounds Yao as you would expect.

February 15th, 2013 - Yao Ming is mobbed by the Houston media after he gets a key to the city

February 15th, 2013 - The City of Houston Proclamation for Yao Ming

Part 2 of Yao’s Thursday in Houston [more pics]

February 15th, 2013
by John

As mentioned earlier today (Thursday), Yao went to the Houston Zoo Thursday afternoon as part of his continuing effort to educate young people about the importance of caring for endangered species and animals native to Africa.

Below is a pic of Yao meeting some of the kids.

February 14th, 2013 - Yao Ming meets with some children at the Houston Zoo

The first stop was to visit the giraffes where Yao — when looking up to them — said something to the effect like, “Now I know how you guys feel when I enter a room.”

Yao moved on to feed them some lettuce, which they chowed down.

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Yao then visited with the kids in front of a rhinoceros, and Yao knew his stuff since he became educated about them when he took his trip to Africa last summer.

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This rhinoceros weighs over 3,000 pounds, but Yao knew that they really liked being scratched behind the ear (the softest skin on their body) like Yao is doing here. Yao even asked the kids if they would like to come up and touch the rhinoceros in the same spot, and many of them did.

Later Yao went over to the elephant pen where he did some tricks for Yao, like lifting his foot…

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…and stand on its head…

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After spending some time with the elephants and the kids, Yao went to a theater in the Zoo to talk to the children about the importance of wildlife preservation, and to watch a trailer for a WildAid film that’s scheduled to be released this Summer that chronicles Yao’s eye-opening trip to Africa last summer.

February 14th, 2013 - Yao watches a WildAid film trailer at the Houston Zoo theater.

Later in the evening, Yao made an appearance at Jeremy Lin’s Foundation charity event at Houston’s Minute Maid Park (where the Astros play).

February 14th, 2013 - Yao Ming meets up with Jeremy Lin and Rockets GM Daryl Morey at the Jeremy Lin Foundation charity event

It was a long day for Yao, so after he left, Jeremy and Daryl played a mean game of table tennis.

February 14th, 2013 - Jeremy Lin plays table tennis at Jeremy's Foundation charity event