July 8th was a sad day in, not only the NBA, but the Basketball world.
Houston Rockets Center Yao Ming has announced his retirement from the NBA after 9 years of injury plauged, but productive, hooping. Through 2002-2009, he averaged about 19 points and 9 rebounds. The 7’6 gentle giant, as some liked to call him, had amazing touch around the rima and was a very dominant scorer from the center position. He shot over 80% from the free throw line, which is great for his position. He had an excellent jumpshot, and before all of the injury problems and missed seasons, he was poised to become one of the biggest stars of the game.
When hearing this news, I couldn’t help but be sad for Yao. He had glaring foot problems and ankle problems. They were a product of him being so big and running the floor the way he did. It was difficult for his feet to support all of the skilled movements that he wanted to make with them. They limited him in many situations. Last season Yao only played 9 games at limited minutes.
I don’t think Yao wanted to return to the game if he couldn’t do it at a full capacity. I mean, who could blame him right? Whenever you do something, you want to put your all into it. You can’t go half assed into work, if you do you’ll get a half assed product. That’s not what Yao wanted. He wanted to bring a championship to Houston. If he didn’t have all of the injury problems that he did, I think that they would’ve had a legitimate shot at winning a title someday.
He was the type of center who had an enormous amount on skill at his tremendous size. With a combination of a jumper that could extend to about 20 feet, a plethora of post moves, and adept ball handling and passing skill for a 7’6 tower, he was very hard to stop on offense. The thing also about Yao is that he wasn’t just a soft big, he’d do most of his work in the paint like a center is supposed to do. He didn’t let the jumper that he had take control of him, used deep position to score points. He wasn’t exactly an enforcer on defense, but he did his job. He averaged 1.6 blocks throughout his career. I wish the injuries had never slowed him down, he could’ve been a real impact player in the league for years to come.
I know we all remember that breakout series that the Rockets had back in 09 when they came close to elimintating the Lakers. I’m a firm believer that the only reason why the Lakers escaped that series is that because Yao was injured. If Yao had been able to play, they would’ve been able to get out of the first round.
That was probably the biggest moment of Yao’s career, its really sad to see it end this way.
Yao was the greatest ambassador the NBA has ever seen. He bridged the NBA to the international community almost single handedly. What other foreign players do you know that brought an international audience the size of Yao Ming’s? No one that’s who. Yao brought about 300 million fans from the far east to the NBA with him. The NBA’s stock instantly rose when the Rockets selected Yao. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like this again in the NBA. If we do we are far away from it.
The international buzz in the league has grown again in years past as we can see from this draft. Many of the lottery players chosen were of different countries and origins. None of them, however, will be as transitional or as innovative to the game as Yao Ming.
Yao’s game wasn’t hyped because he was a foreign player, but because he was a foreign player that was actually good. Bridging the gap between cultures isn’t an easy thing to do, but Yao carted that burden for basketball fans everywhere. He was the Ferry between the waters of the rest of the basketball world and United States basketball.
I think that he should be a basketball hall of famer one day. Not only for the skills he brought to the floor, but because of everything that Yao did off the court. His generosity, his kindness, his genuine persona. The things he did for basketball have been done by few other players, and for that he should at least be considered for the HOF. Being the guy that bridged a gap for us all isn’t an easy thing to do, when you take that into consideration there is no way he isn’t a hall of famer.
However you view Yao, you can’t deny what he did for the hype of the game. He wasn’t a bad player on top of that either. With that being said, I think Yao made the best decision for himself and his personal health. As I said before, Yao didn’t want to play if he couldn’t give it his all. All in all, the NBA will miss him dearly, he was an asset to Mr.Stern and the league, possibly one that will never be able to return.