Generally, if a Chinese news organization is breaking news about the NBA, I’m taking the report with half a box of Kosher salt. But in this case, they likely are on to something.
China Radio International’s English website cited that the China’s Basketball Pioneers website posted on its Weibo (China’s most prominent social media platform) account that an unnamed member of the Rockets front office said there was a plan in place to honor Yao during the upcoming season.
According to the report the Rockets plan to hold the ceremony close to the Chinese Lunar New Year which will be near the end of January 2017.
That Houston would retire the number of one of the franchise’s great players right after he entered the Hall of Fame makes a lot of sense. As would the reported timing.
Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady helped spark some excellent Rockets teams in the mid-2000s, teams that were just never able to get over the hump and contend for a title. However, Ming’s popularity in China has made the Rockets a popular team there to this day and helped open up that and other international markets to the entire NBA. He’s an important player who also was an excellent one on the court.
Good on the Rockets for taking this step.