Unless it turns out that Shaq’s retirement was nothing more than a marketing scheme and he returns for another season, the NBA will have lost two of it’s biggest (literally) players in one offseason. On Friday, it was reported that Yao Ming would be retiring after nine NBA seasons.
In his first three seasons in the NBA, Yao never played less than 80 games. It looked as though the 7’6″ center would become one of the most dominant players in the NBA. There were times when he was an unstoppable force and one of the best game-changers in the league. From 2005-2008, injuries resulted in Yao never being able to play more than 57 games in a season. A couple years ago we wondered if the big man might be too large to enjoy a long career, and it turns out we were right.
Yao’s career stats are good — 19 points, 9.2 rebounds per game — but in the end it was clear that he would never be healthy enough to be the same player he was four years ago. However, there is no denying Yao will go down as a huge contributor to the globalization of the game of basketball. The supersized center made the NBA popular in China and made basketball as relevant as it can be overseas.
His career will likely go down as a disappointment in the sense that he could have been a great player if healthy, but I think we can all agree Ming’s contributions were hardly limited to the court.Google+