When Micheal Jordan was in the prime of his NBA career, commissioner David Stern started promoting the American basketball star along with other NBA players internationally. A main focus of promoting the NBA was in China, where the game of basketball was starting to explode. Stern started sending his NBA stars over in an attempt to garner excitement in China for the NBA version of the game they already loved. When Jordan retired, so did much of the excitement for the game until one of China's own materialized. Yao Ming single-handedly expanded the NBA's reach throughout Asia, spiking merchandise and TV ratings after the Houston Rockets made him the top overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft (AP,2011). Yao captured the hearts of Asians and Americans alike and his worldwide impact will probably never be duplicated by another NBA player.Yao is 7'6 but it was much more than his height that made him standout in a game filled with giants. Yao became a symbol of China's growth as well as carrying the Olympic torch through Tiananmen Square during the start of the 2008 ceremonies in Beijing (AP, 2011).
During his NBA career, Yao averaged 19pts and 9 rebounds per game. He was named to the all rookie team in his first year and led the Rockets to the playoffs in each of his next two seasons. After missing only a handful of games in his first five years, Yao broke his foot in the 2007 playoffs and has subsequently missed 250 games due to injury since (AP, 2011) and this is what led to his early retirement. In my opinion, Yao would have been a first balot Hall of Famer if not for his injuries. To be as big as he was, Yao possessed a very soft touch along with a variety of basketball skills and the affect that he had on the casual fan could only be matched by Micheal Jordan himself. Yao will sorely be missed as an ambassador of the game and i cant see anyone else having the international affect that he had on the NBA game.
Associated Press (2011). Retrieved on 7/9/11 from: