6 April 2022
Since Yao Ming has retired from basketball, he had established his own winery in Napa Valley, California.
He had even been designated as the Chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association and also, and he has been elected to the Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class.
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Hoops were inside Yao Before the NBA
Before Yao embarked on his NBA career, he was already an explosive offensive star while at the same time, was a huge factor in the paint, as a defensive gem to protect the Shanghai Sharks’ hoops for 5 years.
He was followed closely in the NBA by both the sports media, big companies, and the fans because he became the complete offensive package for the Houston Rockets.
At this unusual size, he had the brisk moves in the low post but still had the knack for being effective in scoring big points from the mid-range.
Memorable but short NBA stay
But Yao, during his 8 year NBA career, was plagued by a series of injuries, generally to his lower body. This was because he had to carry his huge structure up and down the court several times.
The final straw was during the 2009 playoffs (second round) of the Houston Rockets against the Los Angeles Lakers. He limped into the court to lead his team into a triumph early in the series.
But afterward, doctors saw a hairline stress fracture in his foot, which somehow indicated that his NBA career would sadly end.
Never forgot his education
Shortly after retiring from the NBA, he went on a personal mission to complete a promise he gave to his parents before he signed on for the Shanghai Sharks at the young age of 17 to complete his education.
He enrolled at Shanghai’s famed Jiao Tong University.
People expected him to hire instructors for private courses or even to go online to complete his degree due to his celebrity status, but he waived this privilege.
He wanted to feel for himself the classroom atmosphere and be a real student.
He wanted to raise his hand to answer questions from his professors in lectures. He wants to blend in with his fellow students in the canteen or the library to study together.
He had to prepare a packed lunch every morning and drove to the campus for one hour. Because of the distance, he once thought of renting a dorm, but he didn’t want to be away from his wife Ye Li and daughter Amy.
It took him 7 years of schoolwork to finish his economics course. In July 2018, he happily delivered the commencement address to his 3,300 fellow graduates.
The skills that he acquired from learning Economics were significant when he took the reins of the Chinese Basketball Association. He applied the realities of the CBA to free-market forces to make it relevant to the times.
Investments and appointments
At present, Yao Ming is a successful entrepreneur, but still maintains links to basketball which he dearly loves. Aside from the winery in Napa Valley, he opened restaurants both in Houston (the home of the Rockets) and in his hometown Shanghai, China. Both restaurants are named Yao Restaurant and Bar.
He did make use of his famous name to make this business move click with the public.
He created some personal touches in each restaurant which made each customer feel that he is just right there with them, talking, eating, and laughing.
Back in 2014, he launched the NBA Yao Basketball Club which coordinates closely with the NBA. He also owned the Shanghai Sharks professional basketball team from 2009 until he sold all his shareholdings before the start of the 2017 to 2018 season.
He also helped market basketball effectively in China, even after his retirement. This was the reason why he was designated unanimously, in February 2017, as the president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
This was a very important appointment that assured the continuous strong growth of basketball in China. Up to today, he still maintains this position.
Yao Ming has managed his finances well. He has an approximate net worth of $120 million which is a combination of his NBA contract income, multi-brand endorsement deals, and property and business investments.
Along the way, Yao invested private equity money through Yao Capital. He also selected worthy charity initiatives for his Yao Ming Foundation.
Yao also established an athletic marketing agency. He also coordinated a series of public information campaigns that inspired a Chinese ban on elephant ivory commercial purchases. He even filmed an episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls which featured him rappelling down a dangerously rocky side of a cliff.
A normal day for Yao today
A typical day today for Yao Ming after being at the office of the CBA would look like this.
He would head straight home after work. Yao then enjoys the dinner cooked by Ye Li, his wife at their humble Beijing apartment where they live with their daughter Amy.
He would then send emails, or relax through his character WoW in the digital game World of Warcraft, before going to bed.
He didn’t want to be in the NBA forever, injury or no injury, not like other guys who still keep banging bodies with the younger ones while already in their 40s.
At work, he divides his time between the CBA (which is a professional league) and the government-run basketball federation. It is the umbrella that handles the national team programs, the youth grassroots, the WCBA (professional women’s league l), and the representative of China in the FIBA.
For Yao, it’s not a boring life. It’s challenging but complicated.
Looking for the new Sino Hoop star
The ongoing mission now for Yao is to not let the ball stop at him being the only illustrious Chinese basketball star to have ever graced the NBA courts. He is on the lookout for a new Oriental hero, preferably from the rural outskirts, to give the Chinese youth the chance to live the NBA dream.
But not to be a candidate for the teams, then to be waived, or be made to play a few games. Like some Chinese players the past decade or so.
But to be a true hoops celebrity and make the Chinese people smile and proud.