On September 12, 1980 the world was blessed with the birth of Yao Ming in Shanghai, China. That might sound a little dramatic, but Yao expedited the globalization of basketball in ways that would have been impossible without a legitimate star from China. Yao bridged the gap between Western and Eastern cultures with a basketball – that’s a powerful and impactful contribution to the world of sports. Many would think a 7 foot 6 inch man would be intimating but Yao genuinely stands as gentle giant. The 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee retired from the NBA in July of 2011 but stopped contributing to the game; he’s been the commissioner of the Chinese Basketball Association since 2017 and leads basketball outreach programs across the globe.

The x8 NBA All-Star didn’t have the most stellar kick game on the court but he did have some funny commercials like this one:

Unlike most Number 1 overall draft picks (2002 NBA Draft) Yao didn’t get a signature shoe but he had a deal with Reebok that resulted in some pretty impressive PEs (fun fact: Yao wore Nike when he first entered the league).┬áIf you want to know more about Yao’s kicks in depth then check this great article written by Sneaker History alumni Noah Goldowitz, here!

Yao x Mutumbo, have fun scoring on that combo.
in his first 3 seasons Yao displaced Shaq as the Western Conference starter from 2003-2005 and the league could no longer deny Yao’s impact.
Yao never earned All-NBA 1st Team honors but one could argue that he was the best center in the league at various times from 2003 – 2008.
Yao enjoyed a decorated career in china including MVP (2001) and league championship/ Finals MVP (2002) before entering the NBA.
Don’t let his skinny stature fool you, Yao could dominate down low and hit his free-throws. His career averages of 19 PPG, 9 RPG and 2 BPG might not jump off the page, but if Yao remained healthy then those averages would be higher.
Foot and ankle injuries in his left leg kept Yao from a longer NBA career; banging in the NBA is so tough on the ankles.
2005 All-Star kicks, dragon style!
Pump PEs in 2008, one of the last All-Star Games Yao would actually participate in.