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How Did Miami Heat Introduce Yao Ming to the Fans on His First Game?

The Now-Retired Basketball player Yao Ming has earned his position in the NBA Hall of Fame because of his excellent agility and skill in basketball. Being the first foreign rookie picked as the 1st draft pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, the world had no idea that they would be introduced to the Houston Rockets’ Gentle Giant.

Sparking a racial issue, Miami Heat first welcomed Yao Ming to Miami by distributing thousands of fortune cookies in the game referencing Yao Ming’s origin and ethnicity. Yao was not offended, he had never seen one before.

Yao Ming before basketball

Yao Ming was born in Shanghai. He weighed 10 pounds at birth. He had no siblings., He was the only child of former Chinese National Team basketball players, Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi. Both his parents were more than 6 feet in height. 

Yao Ming had already reached the height of 5 feet 7 in his third grade. Yao Ming’s speedy growth meant that he was always hungry, and his appetite never seemed fulfilled. To meet her child’s needs, Fang Fengdi usually bought food in the local city’s food market at the market’s closing time for lower prices.  

Initially, Yao Ming paid basketball no mind because he was never really interested in sports. What piqued his interest was military history and the battles that occurred within it. In his ninth grade, he had already surpassed both his mother and father’s height, gaining the attention of the people around him. He signed a contract with the Shanghai youth team. At the ripe age of 17, he already became Shanghai Sharks’ star player. (Source: Biography

The Renowned All Star, Yao Ming

The Chinese NBA Hall-of-Famer began his basketball career in his teenage years. He played in the Chinese Basketball Association as a member of the Shanghai Sharks for five years. He obtained a championship win in his final year of playing for Shanghai Sharks before being released.  

A few months after his removal, the Houston Rockets chose Yao Ming to be their 1st overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, being the first foreigner to become the 1st draft pick. Yao Ming felt that he was responsible for representing the Chinese people in his wins and losses in the eyes of the Americans.  

Many basketball commentators criticized Yao Ming’s presence, including famous Bill Simmons and Dick Vitale, stating that Yao Ming would fail in the NBA. He participated in the NBA playoffs four times, and in the NBA postseason in 2009, the Houston Rockets won the first-round series. (Source: Biography)

The Controversial Marketing Strategy

When Yao Ming played his first game in Miami, the Miami Heat distributed 8,000 fortune cookies. Although it was a stereotype referencing Yao Ming’s ethnicity, he took no offense, thinking that fortune cookies were part of the American culture, having never seen fortune cookies in China.

Another racial-based controversy sparked before Shaquille O’Neal & Yao Ming met. “Tell Yao-Ming, ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh”, O’ Neal said. Being accused as racist for his comments, O’Neal brushed the accusations off, saying that it was a joke. Although Yao Ming believed this, he stated that the Asian community does not see the joke. O’Neal later expressed his feelings of regret with how he treated Yao Ming. (Source: The Free Library)

Yao Ming’s Career and Retirement

Yao Ming was successful in his NBA career, becoming the first rookie to play in the 2003 All-Star games since 1995. He placed second in the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Sporting News even labeled him as the Rookie of the Year. In the rest of his NBA career – Yao Ming was celebrated for being a skillful player. 

He retired in July 2011 because of many ankle and foot injuries, including his third fracture to his left foot. NBA commissioner David Stern acknowledged Yao Ming’s role as the bridge between Chinese and American fans. 

In 2016, Yao Ming was admitted to the NBA Hall of Fame with Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson. Yao Ming’s skills aided him until the end, becoming one of the first Chinese Athletes to acquire international fame. (Source: The Free Library)

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