Yao Ming offers a compelling look at his rookie season with the Houston Rockets in the Players’ Tribune.
With NBA Summer League having just wrapped up rookies now begin the arduous process of improving prior to training camp in October. As each of the rookies maneuvers for what for most will be their first professional season the Yao Ming essay should be on their reading list.
For the Houston Rockets center Ming his rookie year had more than the typical adjustments given his first language wasn’t English.
Here’s some top lines from Ming’s Players’ Tribune essay: My Rookie Year
Ming’s first impression:
Yao points to little things being a big deal like receiving his first jersey with his name on it and people calling him Yao (in China they use surnames first) or people sharing personal information.
I was so excited to see my name on my new Rockets jersey. That was a big thing for me because I had never had my name on a jersey before.
First Houston Rockets Player to make an impression on Ming:
Steve Francis made an impression on Ming from the second they met. He made the big man feel comfortable and took a leadership role with the Rockets new big man.
Steve was the first person to greet me when I visited the arena. He walked across the locker room and gave me the hardest high five I’d ever felt. He put his entire body into it. You really could feel his muscle. My hand stung.
Francis was the same off court as fans remember him on court:
In the Chinese tradition, when you meet someone for the first time you stay back a little bit. You say hello, shake hands, but it is very formal. Over time, like a pot of water that slowly heats up, you get to know someone and get more comfortable. Steve wasn’t that way. Steve was boiling water right away. On the court or off the court, Steve was 200 degrees all the time. I instantly liked him.
Ming cites Rudy Tomjanovich as the other pivotal person in his acclimation to the NBA:
Rudy gave me very important advice: “Don’t waste any energy on the things you cannot control.”
The main thing Ming had to adjust to was speed:
In the NBA, every possession was a fight. I learned that big men have to play faster. Back then, in the CBA, the game would usually slow down to the big man’s pace. In the NBA, it was a sprint from the very, very beginning. If you could not run at same speed as the guards, you could not compete.
All rookies should read the essay as it offers insight into what to expect, and it’s an endearing look back from the Houston Rockets center. For Clutch City fans it’s likely hard to believe it was just 14 years ago Ming was a rookie.
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