These were my favorite passages from Yao Ming’s biography by Clayton Geoffreys.
“Yao Ming never even liked basketball at first. He always wanted to be an architect. He was interested in other intellectual pursuits as well like geology, airplanes, and archeology. He also enjoyed reading ancient texts by Lu Xun. His other hobby was video gaming. Yao often spent so much of his money and time playing video games that he did not even have the time to give basketball a shot. The young giant was also a very introverted and soft-spoken lad.”
Moreover, his demeanor and personality were the complete opposite of The Diesel’s. Big Aristotle loved the spotlight and had a penchant for making fun of things and cracking jokes. Meanwhile, the Chinese Great Wall was a soft-spoken and gentle giant that personified the differences between China and America’s cultures.
The coach also told Yao that it was okay to make mistakes and to avoid blaming himself too much for them.vii The head coach was one of the primary reasons for Yao Ming’s quick adjustment to the rigorous life in the NBA.
A superstar with Tracy McGrady’s capabilities was what Yao Ming truly needed to complement his inside dominance.
From January 18, 2005, onwards until the end of the season, Yao was consistently in double-figure scoring after realizing how much easier life was when playing alongside a great perimeter player like Tracy McGrady. On top of that, the Houston Rockets also seemed to have shaken off their early season struggles after their two best players finally learned how to play off each other’s strengths.
No matter how you look at it, Yao Ming’s biggest impact on the game of basketball was never on the hardwood floor. It was always greater than that. Ever since he was drafted into the NBA in 2002, Yao Ming has been the biggest bridge that narrowed the gap between the west and east concerning basketball and other related sports. Yao is the main reason for the NBA’s quick and fast globalization in the country of China, especially when the whole nation was rooting for him back in his days with the Houston Rockets.”
“Throughout his career in the NBA, no other player in the history of basketball has attracted the same amount of viewership as Yao Ming has. Not Michael Jordan, not Shaquille O’Neal, not Kobe Bryant, and not LeBron James. Yao’s name in international basketball has become a household fixture, especially in Asian countries where the population and market are potentially the biggest. Just by looking at how many people viewed Yao’s first clash with Shaq and his first game against fellow countryman Yi Jianlian tells as so much about his influence to the NBA’s globalization.”
“Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, a sports consultancy firm in Chicago, once said that nobody in the history of professional sports has ever had the worldwide impact that Yao has had on basketball, and nobody might ever duplicate it again. Yao paved the way for the NBA and other sports to penetrate the Chinese market. He is the sole reason why from a five percent viewership of NBA games in 2002, the viewership rose to over twenty percent at the time when Yao Ming retired from the game. Several sporting goods brands also found a way to become relevant in China considering how much of an impact Yao left regarding basketball. Brands were not the only ones to have found a successful market in China as several NBA players only became more popular due to the NBA’s penetration of the Chinese market. Today, even Kobe Bryant has surpassed Yao Ming’s popularity in China as a basketball player, particularly because of how much the game grew in the country ever since the 7’6” giant proved his quality by dominating the NBA landscape.”
“Looking at those names, one would come to the conclusion that extremely tall basketball players were severely one-sided and limited as far as their capabilities were concerned due to a variety of reasons. One might say that they lacked a lot in mobility. Others might observe that those tall players lacked the athleticism to keep up with their smaller yet more powerful counterparts. And some might just say that the tallest basketball players lacked refinery concerning skills. However, Yao Ming shattered all of those misconceptions about extremely tall and big NBA players. Yao had the mobility of players a lot smaller than he was. He had plenty of athleticism despite his height and weight. He was also the personification of skill as far as centers were concerned mainly because of the amount of moves and weapons he had in his arsenal.”
“Height may be might in the game of basketball, and Yao Ming proved to be the very embodiment of that famous saying. Nobody ever thought that so much skill could belong to such a tall and big player. Going back to what one of his youth trainers, Bruce O’Neil told him, Yao indeed became just as graceful as Hakeem Olajuwon, as ferocious as Patrick Ewing, and as refined in hitting jumpers as David Robinson. He could do anything those players could do but was five or six inches taller than any of them. Yao had all the skills that would have instantly made him an all-time great had it not been for the injuries that cut his career short.”
My takeaways from reading this book was
- Being the first in anything is always tough but we are not even sure of the millions of lives he has impacted and inspired for others to pave the way for Chinese basketball players to play in the NBA.
- Defy all odds even though he was huge at 7ft 6. He was able to work on his game and become good at many things that centers are typically not known for.
- Globalization- how connected our worlds really are.
- The impact and becoming a hall of famer not for his athletic feats although they were impressive but by being ambassador to billions of people all over the world.
- Excellency- have high standards but also give your credit where credit is due.
- Have a support staff around to lift you up.
- Not being able to get outside your comfort zone. Coming to the US was not easy but because he did he bought basketball to a country of over a billion people.
- Constant improvement every day. His dedication to his craft is inspiring= people love commitment.
- Be coachable- his relationship was with his coach helped me thrive and be kinder to himself but he was able to push his limits because of the feedback.
- Represent your country- he always had his best games representing China during the Olympic games.
Davidson Hang is currently in Sales at Cheetah Digital which is a Marketing technology company located in NYC.
Davidson is an avid networker, personal growth- life and business coach.
He loves spreading the love and regularly helps people create and design the life they want for themselves.