It’s been one heck of a run for former Houston Rockets All-star center Yao Ming. First, in September of 2016, Yao was rightfully enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Then, earlier this month, the Rockets gave Yao the ultimate honor by retiring his number 11 to the Toyota Center rafters.
Now, just earlier today, the beloved Rocket will take his knowledge of the game and his international clout into league management, as he was just unanimously voted the new president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
This is a huge change for the Chinese program, which was previously run by the government. Moving its leadership to someone who actually knows about the game and what it takes to succeed at the highest level instead of keeping it in the hands of politicized bureaucrats is a major step forward for the CBA.
Yao has vowed to make several changes to the CBA, including making improvements to the draft and also encouraging more Chinese player participation in the international arena.
According to the AP and to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, Yao said the following:
"Our next move will be to borrow from international advanced experience, to thoroughly study China's actual conditions and carve ourselves a path of innovation. Reforms would cover all aspects of the game in China, from the national team to youth programs.
“I’ll try my best to contribute in a new way in order to help the development of Chinese basketball.
“We, who take Chinese basketball of as our careers and dreams shall work and stick together.”
No firm word yet on what exactly will happen to Yao’s ownership stake/Presidency of the CBA’s Shanghai Sharks, but also according to ESPN, the Xinhua News Agency, which is the official press agency for the People’s Republic of China, speculates Yao may now have to give up his ownership.
However that plays out, Kudos to Yao on another fine achievement. I can’t think of anyone better to lead the CBA into modern relevance. As a player, Yao was one of the finest global ambassadors the game of basketball has seen. In fact, it helped pave his way to the Hall of Fame. It’s awesome to watch him continue on with that legacy even in retirement.