NinetyFourStore: In honor of Yao

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in from the editor

Yao Ming – Part 3

This is the last post in a series entitled ‘Yao Ming’.

After eight seasons, Yao Ming has retired from the NBA.

In eight seasons with the Houston Rockets, Yao Ming averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.  The 7’6 center shot 52% from the field and a sparkling 83% from the free throw line.  The first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Yao made eight All-Star game appearances and was an All-NBA selection five times.  He earned over $93million in salaries over the course of his career.

What’s most striking in reflecting back upon Yao’s career is the good health he enjoyed in his first three seasons: the giant only missed a total of two games in those years at the time assuaging fears that a man his size could not endure the pounding of the NBA game.  The rejoicing was premature.  Yao went on to play more than 60 games only once in the next six years.

Was Yao Ming’s career a failure?  The bar is high for first overall selections and Yao’s Rockets only passed the first round once during his time with the team.  Having said that, he will go down as the greatest ‘giant’ in the league’s history, proving far more productive than any other man over 7’4 to have played the sport.

Was Yao the right pick?  While he certainly fared better than Duke’s Jay Williams–the man many believed in 2002 should have been the first overall selection–few would argue against Amare Stoudemire’s body of success.  While Stoudemire himself has never been considered a true ‘superstar’, the power forward was vastly more productive than Yao over the course of his career.

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in essays

Myself and four colleagues chime in on the anniversary of ‘The Decision.’

It will eventually be erased from the public consciousness but its practical implications could linger ad infinitum. Depending on what happens these next few months, it [The Decision] could be remembered as the linchpin for a massive overhaul of the NBA’s current economic structure.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has retired from the NBA.

While the timing of this news came as a surprise, I think for most, including myself, this announcement at some point was expected.

The saga is finally over.  While respects are due, my overwhelming emotion is one of relief.  The grief and the pain have long past.  This outcome had been for too long a delayed inevitability.  This team and its fans could no longer cling to a false hope and the time is now to turn the page and move on.

Yao Ming will not, and should not, ever be forgotten.  From the moment he awkwardly greeted us from his home upon his drafting to the moments of courageousness he displayed during his tenure, memories abound for which to be proud.  He was a pioneer and ambassador.  He was a model citizen and teammate.  And when healthy, he was the best center in the NBA and the cornerstone of our team.

He captivated us from the start.  His outburst in Dallas his rookie year to his battles with O’Neal.  His dominance in ’06 when before injury, he was on pace to contend for the MVP.  His ‘Willis Reed’ against LA, the return from injury after dramatic minutes in the tunnel.  We’ll replay those moments on screen and in our minds as we raise his banner to the rafters.  Yes, it is a fair bet that the #11 n Houston will never again be worn.

He may not have the numbers, but for impact on the game, Yao Ming is an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame.  If I had a vote, he would be in.  Few have done more for the globalization of basketball.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has retired from the NBA.  He was the first overall pick just a decade ago and spent his entire career here with this team.  Yao will be missed and forever remembered; for the Rockets, the time has come to move on.

in musings

Y! Sports: Yao Ming to retire from NBA

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My thoughts coming shortly.

in musings

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