Make sure to tune in for the resolution and closure ceremony for Yao Ming’s NBA career at 2pm today on CCTV-5. The press conference is being held at an undisclosed hotel in Pudong, with 300 reporters in attendance for the event. The program has the potential to be one of those work-stopping-gather-round-the-television moments that justifies having a TV in the first place.
Yao is slated to bring the curtain down on an injury-plagued career that began with his being selected as the first ever non-American number 1 pick in the NBA draft, eventually fulfilling his promise enough to be considered the greatest true center in the league. The perennial All-Star never managed to get out of the second round in the playoffs (falling against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009), his first and last appearance in the conference semifinals after losing three times in the first round.
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey will also be at the press conference, a move the NBA league office green-lighted, despite the current NBA lockout that prevents players and non-players from fraternizing in any way, shape or form (Michael Jordan, currently majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, was warned that he would face a $1 million USD fine from the league, if he so much as sniffed at current NBA players during the American Century Classic celebrity golf tournament).
And if you’re of the TV-hating variety, you can try to find coverage here. (Compatible with Internet Explorer only).
To get you in the right sentimental/nostalgic Weltschmerz mood, we’d like to point you to the trailer for Year of the Yao (which we certainly recommend, if you haven’t seen it yet), a documentary that follows the entire process of Yao’s arrival on American shores.
Videos after the jump…
Also: one of the defining moments in Yao’s career…fourth quarter, five minutes left to go in Game 1 at Los Angeles against the Lakers, and Yao’s injured again. He summons the entirety of his will to fight through the pain in the biggest professional moment of his career, and makes it back onto the court to finish the game, scoring eight consecutive points for a Rockets victory. Yao would injure his foot for good in Game 3, the Rockets would lose in 7 games, the Lakers would go on to win the Championship against the Orlando Magic, and Yao would only play 5 more games in the next two years. Say what you will about the man’s frailty, or his propensity for getting dunked on: fighting through a broken foot to score eight straight points was when Yao showed the world his true mettle.
Related: Yao’s Left Foot and the End of the Ming Dynasty