Yao Ming’s legacy more about politics, business than basketball

yao ming Pictures, Images and Photos Yao Ming officially retired from professional basketball yesterday. He was supposed to be one of the best players to ever play the game in the center position. However, his body was never really able to take the grind of a grueling NBA season against the world’s biggest and best. Still, his early retirement at age 30 did not stop him from becoming a global phenomenon, although more for who he is than what he accomplished on the basketball court.

Yao is rightfully credited with bringing basketball and the NBA to China. Of course, like everywhere else on the planet, it was Michael Jordan that introduced the game to the world. However, Yao brought basketball to the top of mind and heart for the Chinese. More importantly, Yao is seen as the bridge between China and the United States. In fact, he is even considered the bridge between China and the rest of the world. He is the first Chinese athlete to be liked outside of China. Obviously, this has made him very rich, but globalization and thus, all people are the real beneficiaries.

When Yao came into the league he had a lot of hype surrounding him. His talent was undeniable and even more, his 7’6″ height that is extremely tall even by NBA standards garnered a lot of attention. I predicted then and every time since that he would never come close to matching the hype and expectations of him as a basketball player. I always maintained that he would be an average player at best and I even said that he won’t last as long as other players. I am proud of myself for being so right when everyone else rolled their eyes at me. However, I could not and did not predict the massive global impact Yao has had on U.S. – China relations and the entire world.