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Ricky Rubio looks tiny next to Yao Ming

Yao Ming Ricky Rubio

So I realize that almost everyone is going to look tiny standing next to 7-foot-6 Yao Ming, but this photo of Ricky Rubio posing with the former Houston Rockets center was just too funny to pass up.

Though he is a point guard, Rubio is still 6-foot-4 and not exactly a shrimp. But he doesn’t even come up to Yao’s shoulders. And it looks like the cameraman snapped the photo a little too quickly, because the ordinarily friendly Yao didn’t get a chance to smile.

Rubio shouldn’t feel badly; Yao also made the massive JJ Watt look like a wee little man in their picture.

Photo: Instagram/Ricky Rubio

Yao Ming may be the only athlete who could make JJ Watt look tiny (Picture)

Yao Ming JJ Watt

JJ Watt is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Houston Texans defensive end is 6-foot-5, 298 pounds, and a monster on the field. One of Watt’s specialties is his ability to bat passes. He was credited with 16 passes defended last season, which is an absurd amount for a defensive lineman. But as big and awesome as Watt is on the gridiron, he looks like a dwarf standing next to former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.

The two Houston icons had lunch together Tuesday, according to Watt, who shared the above photo of them on Twitter. Sure, we all knew that Yao, who is 7-foot-6 is gigantic, but it’s still pretty incredible to see someone make Watt look tiny. Very few people can do that.

Photo credit: Twitter/JJ Watt

Yao Ming thinks lack of media coverage in Houston can be good for Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin considers Yao Ming to be a role model and sought guidance from him throughout last season. The two became close thanks to the their Asian roots, and Yao even said he tried to sign Lin to his Chinese team during the lockout. Now Lin is following Yao’s career path by signing with the Rockets, and the former All-Star center thinks that will be a good career move for the point guard.

“I’m so glad the Knicks didn’t match the contract,” Yao told the New York Times. “Houston is a good place for Jeremy to come to. It’s a good fit because both sides can provide the best opportunity for each other.

“In Houston, we have a very good community and great fans,” Yao said. “With less media coverage, I think it made me focus more on basketball. I think that’s one reason I played so well.”

Lin recently admitted that Linsanity got to his head last year. Playing in New York with all the media and attention is a big reason why he blew up, but it also results in many distractions. Being in Houston will allow him to focus on his game without worrying about much else. Like Yao says, this should be good for him.

Yao Ming reportedly tried to sign Jeremy Lin for his Chinese team during lockout

The New York Knicks must feel more fortunate by the day. They chose to stick with Jeremy Lin rather than releasing him, and to say it has paid off would be an epic understatement. Lin was released by both the Warriors and Rockets before landing in New York. In addition, he was reportedly recruited by his good friend Yao Ming to play for the Shanghai Sharks, a Chinese team that Yao bought back in 2009.

According to the NY Post, Yao tried to sign Lin during the lockout. Earlier this week, Lin admitted that he would have considered playing overseas if the Knicks waived him.

“I wasn’t considering that just yet,” Lin said, “but I figure if I get waived before the (Feb. 10) deadline and there’s nothing left, you know, maybe I do need to go overseas, but God works in mysterious and miraculous ways.”

After five straight games with 20-plus points, playing overseas is not something Lin needs to concern himself with. However, he and Yao are close friends. When Lin was on the Warriors roster, the two would meet for dinner every time the Rockets faced Golden State. Jeremy said he talks to him after every game and considers Yao to be a “role model” and a “mentor.” From the sound of it, he was awfully close to becoming a money-maker for Yao as well.

Yao Ming Selling His Own Wine

Since his sudden and unfortunate retirement from the NBA back in July, Yao Ming has turned the page of his life and quickly focused on a new set of goals.  For starters, he has been attending one of the most prestigious schools in China.  Yao has also continued to work toward raising money for charities, which is what he hopes to do with his latest entrepreneurial idea: bottling a selling his own wine.

According to China Daily, Yao will debut his wine this Sunday at an auction held by the Special Olympics in East Asia.  The bottle, which is called “Yao Ming: a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon,” comes in a 1.5-liter container and is extremely rare and expensive.  There are 1,200 bottles in existence — none of which will be sold on the open market — and each one costs about $596 or 3,800 yuan.

“He did this because he is one of the biggest sports stars in the world,” Ma Guoli of the China branch of Infront Sports and Media AG said. “He is running a basketball team now, going to a university to further broaden his horizons and is also devoted to charity. Although some other sports stars have explored new lines of work after retirement, Yao is one of the few who can do everything so brilliantly. And everyone has his own ambitions.”

Personally, I’d like to see Yao’s wine hit the open market so we could see how it stacks up against Steve Spurrier’s creation or the San Diego Chargers bottle.  If I had to take a guess, I’d say Yao’s probably tastes the best.

H/T to the USA Today’s Game On! for passing the story along

Yao Ming is Going Back to School

Oftentimes when there is a work stoppage in a professional sports league, players will go back to school.  Anthony Randolph has chosen to go back to LSU during the NBA lockout and was even considering joining a fraternity.  Unfortunately for Yao Ming, injuries have derailed his career and he will not be playing basketball when the labor situation is sorted it.  He will, however, still be doing the whole going back to school thing.

Yao will reportedly attend Shanghai’s Jiaotong University but has yet to decide what he will study.  Jiaotong University is one of the most prestigious schools in China, and Yao will receive one-on-one teaching while in attendance.  According to his agent, the 7-foot-6 center does not want to become a distraction to the other students by sitting in a classroom with them.  Yao enrolled at Jiatong just before he headed to the U.S. to begin his basketball career but was too busy to complete the requirements.

As you may remember, Yao also received an honorary degree from the University of Hong Kong for his role in HIV/AIDS research back in 2008.  Between his honorary doctorate in social sciences and an education from one of China’s top university’s, it appears Dr. Ming will make up for what his basketball career lacked with a respectable background in higher education.  That’s more than most who have had their careers cut short by injury can say.

Yao Ming Retires, Ends Unfortunate Career with Rockets

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.