— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) February 4, 2017
Yao Ming is already in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and on Friday evening, the Houston Rockets provided him with the highest possible honor put forth by the organization. At halftime of a game between the Rockets and the Chicago Bulls, the franchise that employed Ming for the entirety of his NBA career lifted his jersey into the rafters and provided a ceremony fit for one of the game’s best.
From the moment Ming arrived for the halftime ceremony, he was greeted with eruptive applause, and that is certainly fitting. The 7’6 center saw his career cut short at the age of 30 due to injury, but in his prime, Ming was a five-time All-NBA selection who posted a career 23.0 PER to go along with three separate seasons in which he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Ming’s career with the Rockets will always be linked to that of Tracy McGrady, as the two stars coexisted quite well together and helped take Houston to impressive heights when both were healthy and available. In fact, Ming made sure to send love to McGrady with a crack about his ability to score in a hurry and a reference to his infamous 13-point, 35-second explosion.
Other notable members of the organization in attendance included Hall of Fame big man Hakeem Olajuwon and veteran forward Shane Battier, who also blessed the microphone with a speech to honor Ming’s legacy.
It’s fair to state that Ming never reached the heights and, certainly, the longevity of some other Hall of Fame centers, but he was a tremendous player in every sense. To add to that, Ming is perhaps the greatest ambassador to China that the game has ever seen, and given the sheer volume of basketball fans dwelling within that country’s borders, his impact on the NBA and the game of basketball cannot be overstated. Congratulations to Yao Ming on what was a fantastic career worthy of this high level of praise.