Sports journalists in the United States are referring to Yao Ming as an “international basketball icon” today, not just because of what Yao did on the court- scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per game- but also what he did after retiring.
CCTV America’s Jim Spellman has more from the NBA Hall of Fame.
Yao Ming\'s legacy touted during Hall of Fame inductionYao Ming is being honored not just for his skills on the court but also for the impact he has had off the court. CCTV America's Jim Spellman has more from the NBA Hall of Fame.
Chinese basketball sensation Yao Ming began his career on the court with the Shanghai Sharks. His height helped make him a dominant force in the Chinese Basketball Association.
He caught the eye of scouts for the NBA. In 2002, he was the league’s Number One overall draft pick and was selected by the Houston Rockets.
He became one of the dominant centers in the league and led the Rockets to four playoff appearances. His loyal fans in the U.S. voted him onto the NBA all-star team eight times.
Back home Ming helped make basketball one of the most popular sports in China. He also led China’s Olympic team three times, even as injuries began to plague his career.
Off the court, he has taken on new roles. He helped bring the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing and he now owns the Shanghai Sharks.
He has become a fierce advocate for wildlife preservation, battling the illegal ivory trade.
He even went back to school to complete his college education, all while contributing to Chinese society as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Yao Ming believes in using the power of sports to bring people together, especially by building cultural bridges between the US and China.
And now he takes his place in the Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside the all-time greats.
Although he is now much more than a basketball player, his passion for the game remains. “Play basketball because of the joy, the fun,” said Yao. “I always hear people say ‘I don’t play basketball anymore because I’m not tall enough or I’m not good enough’ but remember the fun and the joy that basketball brings to you, not only the result.”
Mark Gray on the legacy of Yao Ming
For more on the Legacy of Yao Ming in and beyond basketball, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke to sports journalist and broadcaster Mark Gray.