Heading into the 2002 NBA Draft, there was a lot of intrigue over a 7’6 Chinese basketball player named Yao Ming. He was fluid with the ball in his hands, and could even shoot three-pointers with relative ease.
As one of the tallest NBA players of all-time Yao Ming would go on to have a decorated NBA career with the Houston Rockets. His life after basketball hasn’t been boring, and today we will discuss some of the things that have kept him busy since announcing his retirement.
Yao Ming’s hall-of-fame career
Yao was drafted with the No. 1 pick in the 2002 Draft, ahead of Duke star guard Jay Williams. A motorcycle accident would derail Williams’ career with the Bulls. The Rockets must be thankful they didn’t have an immediate need at the guard position.
As a rookie Ming put up 13 points and eight rebounds per game. He was quickly becoming one of the NBA’s best centers and made his first All-Star team as a rookie.
Casual NBA fans may grumble about the number of Chinese votes swaying the overall ballet, but you couldn’t deny his talent. He finished his career with eight All-Star appearances while averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per game and was named to the All-NBA team five teams.
He was elected to the Basketball Hall-of-Fame in 2018.
Helping the sport grow in China
One of Yao Ming’s most intriguing qualities was his ability to connect with his audience. In China, basketball was growing into a very popular sport, so for Chinese fans to see Ming doing good in the NBA just made other kids want to play. He had one of the highest-selling jerseys in the NBA during his career.
The NBA has always been big on marketability, and the expansion into China was helped largely by Ming’s skills on the court.
Yao Ming has been involved in several charitable causes. One of the most notable is helping save endangered wildlife in China. Shark is known as a delicacy in the country, and every year between 70 and 100 million sharks were being killed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of China.
The Chinese conservation group known as TheWildAid hired Yao to be their spokesperson and it quickly had an impact on the shark population in China, as 60% of Chinese restaurant menus removed shark from their meal list completely.
A few years after helping save the shark population in China, Yao focused on ivory. He helped fight ivory poachers in Africa, and a documentary chronicled his adventures against poachers.
President of Chinese basketball
As the NBA’s growth across the globe expands, Chinese basketball has continued to grow in popularity. A part of this is Stephon Marbury becoming an icon in the country. He paved the way for other former NBA players to enter the country and make a name for themselves in the Chinese Basketball Association.
In 2017, after a unanimous vote by the Chinese Basketball Association, Ming was named the President of Chinese Basketball. The Men’s program has improved but is still looking for its first medal in men’s basketball on the Olympic circuit.
We think it will be tough for them to exit group play with enough wins to qualify for the elimination rounds. However, in a few years, this could be a surprise team.