Yao Ming Has Number Retired by Houston Rockets
On yet another explosive James Harden night, the main story when all the dust settled did not surround the near 42-point triple-double nor the 121-117 wild Houston Rockets win over the Chicago Bulls. There was more to Friday night. It was a celebration.
Last night the Houston Rockets franchise honoured one of the NBA’s greatest ambassadors and one of the organization’s greatest players – Yao Ming. During halftime, the Rockets retired the number 11 worn by the 7’6” Hall of Famer hailing out of Shanghai, China.
Drafted first overall in the 2002 NBA Draft, Yao spent his entire nine-year career with the Rockets where he made eight All-Star teams. In fact, he has never played an NBA season in which he was not voted in (missed the entire 2009-2010 season tending to a leg injury). While his career was cut short due to injuries, the Chinese superstar averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game in the NBA and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
“It was really sad for me that his career was cut so short because I think if he had been able to stay on, we would have been able to win a couple of championships,” Rockets owner Les Alexander said. “He’s a great human being and a great basketball player.”
Yao Ming became the sixth player in Houston Rockets franchise history to see his jersey retired, joining the likes of another great Rockets centre in Hakeem Olajuwon (no. 34) and Moses Malone (no. 24).
“Thinking back on the years I spent here, I just think of the entire team, organization and the city as a big family,” Yao said. “I feel so welcome here, and tonight is very special to me.”
While Ming may never have ended his NBA playing career how he would have liked to, his continued efforts as a leader and an ambassador to the league will cement his legacy forever.