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Sports Then and Now



Yao Ming’s Retirement Provides Disappointing Ending to Landmark Career 10

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Dean Hybl

When healthy, Yao Ming towered over the NBA.

In a perfect world he would have played another five years and be best remembered for having a Dirk Nowitzki –like moment where he put the Houston Rockets on his back and carried them to an NBA title. However, that was not the destiny for the NBA’s first Chinese superstar as fragile feet proved to be too much for Yao Ming to overcome.

Now that he has officially retired from the NBA after missing 250 games over the last six seasons, we are left to wonder what might have been had Ming’s body allowed him to live up to his full potential.

Unlike fellow NBA top pick Greg Odom, whose entire NBA career has been marred by injuries, we were able to get a glimpse of the talents of the 7-foot-6 Yao Ming during his first three seasons in the league.

After being the first overall pick in the NBA draft by the Houston Rockets in 2002, Ming played in 244 of 246 games during his first three NBA seasons. During that time, his production continued to increase from 13.5 points as a rookie to 17.5 in his second year and 18.3 during his third season.

His first battle with an injury occurred during the 2005-2006 season when Ming developed osteomyelitis in his big toe and missed 25 games. However, he quickly recovered from the injury and had his finest season to-date with averages of 22.3 points and 10.4 rebounds.

The Chinese born player was also becoming the NBA’s biggest global superstar and one of its most popular players. He was named to the NBA All-Star team every year between 2003 and 2009 and often received the most All-Star votes of any player. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

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      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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