According to reports, Yao Ming will be retiring from the Houston Rockets and ending his NBA career at age 30. The 7-foot, 6-inch international star averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds and shot 52.4% from the field for his career. The numbers give him an argument for Hall Of Fame status.
But check Yao’s line for the ’06-’07 season – 25.9 ppg, 9.5 – and understand he had potential greatness. The guy was virtually unstoppable with his size and shot selection and very well may be the last back-to-the-basket center we see for a while. If he could ever manage to regain his health, he would have been great off the bench for some team, like Bill Walton in ’86. But alas, these are all hopes and the fact remains injuries shortened his career.
More than anything, Yao’s legacy will be the doors he opened across Asia with basketball becoming both an import and export. It’s hard to imagine Kobe’s barnstorming idea even having an arena to consider in China if it weren’t for Yao.
The question now is who’s going to start at center for the West come All-Star Game weekend?