Yao Ming (Chinese: 姚明) was a professional basketball player who played for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He had been the tallest player in the NBA, at 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in) before he announced his retirement in July, 2011. He is now a full-time student in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.
Career in China
Yao was the only child of 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) Yao Zhiyuan and 6 ft 3 in (1.90 m) Fang Fengdi, both of whom were former professional basketball players. He started playing basketball at age nine, when he went to a junior sports school.
Yao first tried out for the Shanghai Sharks junior team of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) when he was 13 years old. After playing with the junior team for four years, Yao joined the senior team of the Sharks at age 17, averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds a game in his rookie season.
The Sharks made the finals of the CBA in Yao’s third season and again the next year, but lost both times to the Bayi Rockets. Yao finally led the Sharks to win their first CBA championship in 2002. During the playoffs in his final year with Shanghai, Yao averaged 38.9 points and 20.2 rebounds a game, while shooting 76.6% from the field and made all 21 of his shots during one game in the finals.
When Yao decided to enter the 2002 NBA Draft, a team of advisers was formed that collectively came to be known as "Team Yao." When the Rockets selected Yao with the first pick of the draft, Yao became the first international player ever to be selected first overall without having previously played U.S. college basketball.
Before the season, several commentators, including Bill Simmons and Dick Vitale, predicted that Yao would fail in the NBA, and Charles Barkley said he would "kiss [Kenny Smith's] ass" if Yao scored more than 19 points in one of his rookie-season games. Yao played his first NBA game against the Indiana Pacers, scoring no points and grabbing two rebounds. He scored his first NBA basket against the Denver Nuggets. In his first seven games, he averaged only 14 minutes and 4 points, but on November 17, he scored 20 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line against the Lakers. Barkley made good on his bet by kissing Smith's donkey (his "ass").
Yao has been selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game in all seven of his seasons, and has been named to the All-NBA Team five times. However, the Rockets have advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once since he joined the team, and he has missed significant time due to injury in each of the past four seasons.
Yao first played for China in the Summer Olympics at the 2000 Olympics Basketball Tournament, and he was dubbed, together with 7-foot teammates Wang Zhizhi and Mengke Bateer, the "The Walking Great Wall".
During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Yao led the Chinese national basketball team to the quarter-finals and was selected to the All-Olympics team with his performance, averaging 20.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9% from the field.
On August 6, 2008, Yao carried the Olympic Flame into Tiananmen Square, as part of the Olympic torch relay. He also carried the Chinese flag and led his country's delegation during the opening ceremony. After losing to the United States and Spain in the first two games, Yao scored 30 points in a win over Angola, and 25 points in a three-point win against Germany, which clinched China's place in the quarterfinals. However, China lost to Lithuania in the quarterfinals, eliminating them from the tournament. Yao's 19 points a game were the second-highest in the Olympics, and his averages of 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game were third overall.
Off the court
Yao is a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.
Yao is one of China's most recognizable athletes. He has led Forbes' Chinese celebrities list in income and popularity for six straight years. A major part of his income comes from his sponsorship deals, as he is under contract with several major companies to endorse their products.
Yao has also participated in many charity events during his career, including the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Yao donated $2 million to relief work, and created a foundation to help rebuild schools destroyed in the earthquake.
On July 16, 2009, Yao bought his former club team the Shanghai Sharks, which was on the verge of not being able to play the next season of the Chinese Basketball Association due to financial troubles.
Yao announced his retirement from basketball in July, 2011, and started his campus life as a full-time student in Shanghai Jiao Tong University on November 7, the same year.
Citing sources, ESPN reported on May 23, 2014 that Yao was working to put together a group of Chinese investors to make a bid for Los Angeles Clippers.
The NBA's Board of Governors has scheduled a June 3 hearing on whether to force Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team after a recording of him telling a female friend not to bring black people to Clippers games was made public on TMZ.com.
Sterling had decided to authorize his wife Shelly negotiate a sale of the team he bought in 1981 for about $12 million. She is seeking more than $1 billion for the team.
Yao said "anything is possible, but so far, there is nothing substantial" on May 25 in Beijing, where he was attending a graduation ceremony at a basketball school named after him.
On May 26, images spread on China's internet showed Yao about to enter a car stamped with the show's logo and slogan, sparking rumors that the retired Chinese NBS star may join popular Chinese variety show "Where Are We Going, Dad?" with his four-year-old daughter.
3-Time FIBA Asian Championship MVP (2001, 2003, 2005)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (2003)
7-Time NBA All-Star (2003–2009)
3-Time All-NBA Third Team (2004, 2006, 2008)
2-Time All-NBA Second Team (2007, 2009)