NY Daily News
Yao Ming became just the sixth Houston Rockets player to have his number retired by the franchise on Friday night.
Yao’s No. 11 jersey was hung from the rafters of the Toyota Center alongside Hakeem Olajuwon’s No. 34, Clyde Drexler’s No. 22, Moses Malone’s No. 24, Calvin Murphy’s No. 23 and Rudy Tomjanovich’s No. 45 in a halftime ceremony during the Rockets’ game against the Bulls.
“Thinking back on the years I spent here, I just think of the entire team, organization and the city as a big family,” Yao said before the ceremony. “I feel so welcome here, and tonight is very special to me.”
A 7-foot-6 center from Shanghai, Yao was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2002 and was an eight-time All-Star, playing nine seasons in Houston before retiring in 2011 due to constant injuries.
He averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September.
“It was really sad for me that his career was cut so short because I think if he had been able to stay on, we would have been able to win a couple of championships,” Rockets owner Les Alexander said. “He’s a great human being and a great basketball player.”
Fellow Rockets stars Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo and Shane Battier attended the ceremony for Yao, as did NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and other league officials.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Feb. 2 “Yao Ming Day” and welcomed Yao as the city’s goodwill ambassador, an appointment he received from former Mayor Annise Parker in 2013.