The Houston Rockets have announced that they will retire Yao Ming’s number 11 jersey at halftime of the February 3 game against the Chicago Bulls. This moves the ceremony, which was originally scheduled for February 2, up by a day.
Yao will join other famous Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler, Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich with his game shirt hanging from the Toyota Center rafters.
This is the cherry on top of a banner year for Yao, which also saw him inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame back in September.
Yao averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 9 seasons with the Rockets that were marred in the later years by unfortunate injuries, though he did lead the Rockets to their first playoff win in 12 seasons against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009. He was also one of the last true post-up centers, as the game has increasingly moved away from that style of play in recent years.
Yao, however, made his true mark as a global ambassador for the game of basketball, opening the prospect of NBA dreams to an area of the world mostly untouched previously by the beauties of Association play.
Congratulations, Yao. We all look forward to the ceremony on February 3.