Friday, July 8th, 2011 at 1:52 pm  |  94 responses

Yao Ming Is Retiring

by Ryne Nelson

Yao is officially calling it quits after not being able to fully recover from numerous foot operations. It’s a bittersweet moment for NBA fans, as the League is losing a player who was both a great teammate and person.

Per Yahoo!: “Rockets’ Yao Ming has decided to retire from the NBA, league sources tell Y! Sports. He informed the league office within past 48 hours.”

Yao was a giant on the court and had a huge skill set to match. Yao’s the reason many Chinese fans focused their attention on the NBA, and now the League is devoting much attention to selling its game in China.

Thank you, Yao, for everything. We’re gonna play the Yao Ming song for a while…

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  • ThaKidNoah

    That’s crazy he couldn’t even last 10 yrs in the league I guess being that tall has its cons oh well good luck to him maybe one day when he gets his body right he can still play again maybe for his hometown of china

  • Dave19

    Too bad… I wish him a good retirement.. Sucks to be forced out of the game like this.

  • Clay

    This sucks. He was at one point the best center in the game, even though it didn’t mean much to have that title and it still doesn’t. His skill set may have been the best in the game without including driving ability and athleticism.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    He could’ve been the most dominant center in the NBA for a decade at least if it wasn’t for the injuries.
    My lasting memory of Yao will always be that first time he faced off against Shaq and blocked Shaq’s first field goal attempt. That just didn’t happen back then. NOBODY blocked a Shaq shot.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Will miss the guy. Aside from his on-court prowess, the guy was deceptively funny with a dry sense of humour.

  • Dagger

    How is this bittersweet? This is all bitter. So sad to see his career end like this.

  • LP

    I really don’t think he is done. He is 30. He can sit for 2 years and fully heal and decide to come back and still be younger than KOBE, KG, and DUNCAN are right now….. (players that were in his prime group)… He has some basketball left.

  • http://sjfklaf.com Jukai

    Simply an unhappy moment for basketball. Good luck in the future, big fella.

  • Overtime

    Cosign Dagger.
    Want a role model? Look up and you’ll see Yao

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Was a good run Yao, one of the most efficient centers in the league. Going to miss him in the NBA =(

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    God Bless big man, we’ll miss you. I don’t think any other player of this generation has had a greater impact on the game of basketball, globally, than Yao Ming. And what he was ablet to do on the court should never be forgotten…at full strength there was simply no way to possibly guard the big guy. Sad too see two giants of the game, literally and figuratively, go out in the same year.

  • KBJ

    Damn those foot injuries are prematurely punchin all the nba bigs ticket..Odens next prolly

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    This is sad. Was hoping that he would come back eventually… No chance of that? WTF? I feel like if he could just run for 30 mins thats enough for him to be a threat for any team. Bummer… Send him to the Suns see if they can’t magically fix him like Hill and Nasty.

  • Oh Nose

    huge, huge, bummer

  • andre anglais

    on another note, could we get a more respectful tribute than those grainy photos and that awful, awful song? man, I am headed over to youtube to celebrate this man’s greatness. Yao, the NBA will miss you.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ 1982

    Damn… I had hoped for the better. Great run.

  • Fat Lever

    Carried an entire nation for almost a decade. Played for his national team when he didn’t have to, and honestly shouldn’t have in hindsight for the sake of his career. But he felt compelled to represent.

  • tony scorpio

    Ill always remember the cover of his half-head w/stevie franchise. Ming dynasty forever.

  • marx

    (one hour later)……………..Greg Oden has also decided to retire

  • D12FSU

    well this sucks, its always sad to see a great talent have to retire early because of injuries, who knows how great Yao could have been

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey



    My fav Yao Ming moment was the “Happy Birthday Kenny” on TNT. Hilarious. Best of luck post retirement Yao.

  • Piggy

    man sucks he couldn’t leave on his own terms

  • JD

    how is it bittersweet?its just bitter, theres nothing good about it

  • http://thahiphopcorner.com Kevin

    Sucks to see him retire, currently in the middle of an online debate of whether he’s a bust or not. I say he isnt, he was extremly productive not his fault he couldnt stay on the court

  • thyr

    this news is 9 years old

  • http://Slamonline.com JKG

    should be a Hall of Famer In my opinion

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    A shame, he was a great player when healthy. Hopefully he decides to make a comeback a few years down the road when he’s healed up.

  • David J. Moore, IV

    Bittersweet career. No. 1 overall pick, a lot of All-Star appearances, but no huge playoff runs or championships. Houston thrives off a big man being their nucleus. A guard cannot help Houston win. They already tried that with Steve Francis and T-Mac; you see how that ended up. :-(

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    This gives more appreciation to what bigs like Wilt, Kareem and Shaq were able to accomplish despite being ginormous human beings.
    Much respect to Yao for all he’s accomplished in such a short period of time and dude had as much to do with making basketball a global sport as Kobe, Bron and MJ.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    *pour green tea on the ground*

    so is it too early to talk about his Hall of Fame credential?

  • http://slamonline dan

    this has to be the worst fecking video I have ever ever eveeeer seen

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I can’t see him as a Hall of Famer based on play. But they consider other stuff too.

  • http://sjfklaf.com Jukai

    Poor kid…

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Co-sign JKG.
    The greatest player of all time over 7’4″.

  • Will Lee

    damn…. Yao and Shaq retiring in the same summer? I will cry for that

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    The Philo, is that really saying much?

  • JV

    You can blame it on China

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Ralph Sampson.

  • http://Slamonline.com CatKiller

    I’m glad he finally called it quits so now the rockets can finally move on and become contenders again. But I’m sad to see such an influential player leave the league.

  • bmorezbest

    i would say he is a hall of famer for him being an ambasador he was good while he played he still owes t-mac an apology for being out when they were tryna make a playoff run i was hopin he would give it another go

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Based in his international influence on the game he should definitely be up for debate for the HOF.

  • Myung

    I’m a proud Asian, but I’m not one of those Asian pride dudes whose favorite players are all Asian. I’m proud of trail blazers like Tiger Woods, KJ Choi, Choo Shin Soo, Ichiro, Nomo, Hines Ward, Jeremy Lin, and Yao, but my favorite athletes are generally black or white and not Asian (with the exception of Hines Ward, who I went to UGA with). But I certainly appreciate Yao’s career and all he’s done for basketball globally and for Asians in particular. I was never a huge fan of his, but I will certainly still miss him. Not only was he a very good player, but he seemed like a really good dude. I definitely think he is a first ballot hall of famer. One of the items on my bucket list was to make the trek to Springfield, and I must say, once I actually made it there and looked at some of the men and women in the HOF, I was pretty shocked by some of the names. Then I remembered, the HOF is not the NBA HOF. It is the BASKETBALL HOF. That means coaches, announcers, and trail blazers (men and women alike) are inducted. Yao Ming is without a doubt a first ballot HOF-er. Like Allen said, he didn’t do enough stat wise to merit induction, but it doesn’t matter. If you consider the whole package, Yao will be going in the same year as Shaq (barring any comebacks by either player). No doubt about it.

  • James

    Cosign Albie1Kenobi: pour out a little green tea… I was looking forward to finally seeing Yao back on the court.

  • Myung

    I’m pouring out some Tsing Tao, Albie!

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher


  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Hines Ward and Tiger Woods aren’t black.
    I guess we really did lose them in the racial draft.

  • david

    Yao was better than Dwight damn it! when they played against each other any way.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    David, by better, I hope you mean more offensively skille? He isn’t better than Dwight. If tiger is asian isn’t Kobe just as much? Or is kobe only a 1/4 Japanese?

  • Myung

    They’re half black and half Asian. Actually, you guys did get Tiger in the racial draft. For shizzle.

  • Myung

    Kobe Bean Bryant’s NAME is 1/3 Japanese. He is 0/4 Asian.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    I’ll bet that Tiger Woods will admit that he’s Black nowadays.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Wow… This is crazy. Such a shame he couldn’t have a longer career–he was the best center in the league hands down for a few years, and he’s also the best center post-Shaq the league has seen when healthy. This guy is the reason I became a Rockets fan, and now that he’s retiring, I don’t think that will change. Finally seeing the Rockets break out of the first round and take the Lakers to 7 games was one of my favorite NBA moments of the past decade, and probably ever as a basketball fan. It was a great but all too short run. Thanks for the memories, Yao.
    Also, being that I’m Chinese, it can’t be ignored the impact he has had on the league internationally, as well as at home. China has caught a lot of flack for working him so much during the off-season, and this is somewhat valid, BUT what most people don’t realize is that he never once complained–in fact he did everything willingly because he genuinely loves his country. And that, folks, is super-cool. This guy is the Michael Jordan of basketball for China, and I’m not saying that in a disparaging, half-laughingmyassoff manner the way I would if I were talking about Hedo Turkoglu. This guy transcended the game off-court on the level of any of the past greats, and I don’t think this is the last we’ll be seeing of him. The league will hook him up with some sort of position a la Dikembe Mutombo. And who knows, maybe we’ll find him coaching the Chinese team or teaching other big men in the league the way Hakeem and Ewing have done.
    Either way, heal up big fella, and enjoy your time away from basketball with your family.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Since you guys are playing the draft, Patrick Chung is the undisputed GOAT of Chinese NFL players.

  • Todd Spehr

    You would’ve thought a lockout might have been actually beneficial to Yao, what with the ample time to continue to heal his foot and all. Not to be, I guess.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher


  • TheBarberShop

    Good riddance. I for one was tired of him. Good guy, I wish him well, but, at this point all he did was take up space on the bench.

  • tavoris

    tough seeing the good guys go…and Yao is one of the good guys

  • Ronald

    @Teddy: Definitely. Chung is amazing. Didnt he have a punt block return for TD this season? Dude is good. Sad that no one outside the states knows who he is. He could help bring the NFL to China. It’s sad that Yao is retiring. So damn freaking sad.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Not a Rockets fan and not Chinese, but this sucks. Yao at his peak was the league’s best center. He deserved to get farther in the playoffs than he did in his career.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Dang. I’m gonna miss him. If he weren’t injury prone he wouldv’e been a dominant force for so long

  • http://bulls.com airs


  • Jose

    How quickly, we’ve lost two of the greatest Centers to retirement in roughly 3 months with yao and shaq. . . so sad

  • A Acosta

    HOFer in my opinion. No one had a bigger impact on the NBA than Yao and he did it with true class. Hope to see him play again.

  • jufu

    i think a little part of me has died this summer with him and shaq…

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Here are some actual videos of Yao playing ball. Do not moderate these, SLAM, they’re perfectly fine!
    2005-2006 season against the Lakers–Kobe had 43 points, Yao with an insanely efficient 33:
    Yao single-handedly owning the Wizards, also hits gamewinner:
    Yao vs. Dwight Howard:
    A rookie Yao Ming vs. Dallas (and Steve Nash lol):

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Here a few more…
    Yao vs. Dwight again, but showing the stats between all of their head-to-head matchups:
    Sorry, another one–Yao vs. a really young (I think sophomore) Dwight:
    Yao vs. Blazers, Game 1 of the 2009 First Round playoffs. One of his best games ever, despite not playing for much of the second half:
    Yao and the Rockets beating the Lakers in Game 1 of the second round:
    There you go.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Seeing Yao, Franchise and T-Mac all together there pointed out to me just how hard Houston had it with injuries. That’s just heinous hard luck.

  • TheNightWatch*8*

    Dang. Ima Miss U Yao. Best of luck in retirement

  • dma

    i think the worse part of this is that the nba won’t pay tribute to him because of this lockout nonsense.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoshElam JE

    Godspeed, Yao. Hopefully you’ll get to play again someday, even if it’s not in the NBA.

  • lockon

    hope injuries didnt get this guy. too early. another guy who went down like penny. another possible reason for his retirement is the lockout (no politics). maybe he hanged it up thinking there might not even be a next season. thanx for all big guy. hope to see you soon.

  • http://twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    This is awful.
    Thankyou Yao.
    Happy trails.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max


  • NolanSmith

    A guy you could always look up too…

  • http://facebook.com/tronjohnson Chief

    Him and the Shogun are gone? This league sucks

  • brandon

    thats sad but to watch him play was amazing

  • Sam

    @thakidnoah china isnt a town its a country….

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Is Yao a Hall of Famer?

  • flash

    sh** first the lockout and then this happens! not a good trend for the nba. fans be doomed :(

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Yao Ming was a godd player, he is not Hall of Fame player. His career was too short. His average of 19 and 9 was nice. Rockets should retire his jersey, but HOF is not in his future unless they add another wing. BOOK IT!!!

  • Towelie

    Yao Ming is Lil Wayne

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Yao Ming is more like Big Pun than like Lil Wayne.

  • Chinadian123

    Yao will be a HOF just not as a player, pretty sure his going in as a contributor… because of what he did for the game of basketball

  • Myung

    For those who are saying Yao is not a HOF-er, I just want to ask you in the least condescending way possible: have you been to the HOF or at least seen the people in the HOF (just google it)? Please look at the men and women in the HOF and then ask again if Yao Ming is worthy of the HOF. I mentioned this yesterday, and I’ll say it again: the basketball HOF is not the NBA HOF. It is the BASKETBALL (I wish I could italicize, underline, and put it in 50 point font) HOF. He will get in. If guys got in based on stats alone, the “Is Yao HOF worthy?” debate is a legit one. But being a great player isn’t the only way one makes it to Springfield. There is a misconception that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is the NBA Hall of Fame. There are many NBA players in the HOF and it is the ultimate goal of most basketball players (besides winning rings and making lots of money). But you have to keep in mind that men AND women, players AND coaches, referees AND announcers have all made the HOF. Just to give you an example, these were the people inducted in 1961: Bernhard “Bennie” Borgmann, Forrest S. DeBernardi, George H. Hoyt, George E. Keogan, Robert A. “Bob” Kurland, John J. O’Brien, Andy Phillip, Ernest C. Quigley, David H. Walsh, John S. Roosma, Leonard D. Sachs, Arthur A. Schabinger, Christian “Chris” Steinmetz, David “Dave” Tobey, Arthur L. Trester, Edward A. “Ed” Wachter. I’ve been a die hard hoops head for 25+ years, and I’ve never even heard of these people. Again, please spend 5 minutes looking at the list of names of those inducted into the HOF before you begin to even think that Yao Ming will not be in the HOF. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Mecca for hoop heads (Springfield) 5 years ago, and I was legitimately stunned that so many “no names” were in the HOF. In my ignorance, I thought only the best of the best NBA players were inducted. I was wrong. I think debates are healthy and they’re what make SLAMonline fun to visit… but in this particular case, if you think Yao Ming will not make the HOF, then you don’t know the HOF.

  • Myung

    Drazen Petrovic (RIP) is in the HOF. I’m fairly certain he went in as a player and not as a contributor (forgive me if I’m wrong). I do think Yao deserves consideration as a contributor (for being such a global ambassador to the game), but I’m almost certain he will go in as a player. But again, he will go in, regardless. I’m certain he will make it to the HOF, and I’m fairly certain he’ll be going in the same year as Shaq unless Shaq signs a 10 day contract with the Heat next season or if Yao’s injuries heal up and he makes a comeback. Besides those unlikely scenarios, I think both of these great big men will be enshrined in 2016/2017.

  • Allenp

    Yeah Yao will get in. Impact on basketball is a big factor for the hall.

  • wiz

    wahhhhhh :___C

  • http://bedotwater.bandcamp.com BE.water

    @Max I was singing that song in my head to. Nice. haha

  • Showtime

    U will be miss in the city big fella. damn miss those stevie franchise and Yao days. Yo no yao. No Yo no yoa lol..

  • http://www.slamonline.com melvin ely

    I bet he still gets voted to start in the ASG :p
    on a more serious note, this is indeed a sad day for all. Good luck godspeed big guy.

  • http://360special.blogspot.com/ dev0

    wow, a significant moment in sporting injuries history, probably #1 in the NBA. Could-have-been.