Yao Ming — the former No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Rockets who for several years was the best center in the game and who helped globalize the NBA by making it the most popular American sport in China — made his retirement official in a ceremony Wednesday in China.
Ongoing foot problems — his left foot was fractured three times and never healed properly — forced him into this decision. NBA TV broadcast Yao’s retirement ceremony from China back to the United States. He started by speaking in Chinese (the broadcast had a translator).
“”Today I need to make a personal decision as a basketball player. I will stop my basketball career and I will formally retire.”
He then went on to thank a number of people and to thank the game of basketball itself for all it had given him. He then switched to English to give a message to his “friends overseas,” particularly Rockets fans.
“I would like to thank you for giving me a great nine years during my NBA career. Nine years ago I come to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player. The entire city and team changed me into a grown man. Not only a basketball player. And also I had my first daughter over there. I feel like a Houstonian and I will always be with you.”
Yao said that this “would be a comma, not a period” and that he would still be involved in basketball. That starts by working with the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese team he played with before coming to the NBA.
Someday, don’t be shocked if big men from around the world flock to talk to him as a guru, the way they do now with another former Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon. Yao has the mind to be a great basketball coach. He was a great basketball player, just one whose body betrayed him before we got to see enough of him.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.