5 Yao Ming Best Plays Moments

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Yao Ming is a Chinese basketball executive and former professional player who played for Shangai Shark of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

The Houston Rockets drafted him as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Ming was named to the All-NBA Team five times and was selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star-eight times.

Yao is one of the best-known athletes in China. Besides being a popular sports icon in China, he is also immensely popular in the States. He is known as the “Yao Ming Phenomenon” in China and the “Ming Dynasty” in the States.

Yao Ming In The Houston Rockets Jersey
Yao Ming In The Houston Rockets Jersey (Source: Bleacher Report)

Likewise, Ming was also part of the National team China. In 2016, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

As of 2024, Yao Ming holds a net worth of $120 million.

Before his retirement, Yao had several phenomenal moments in his playing career. Among them today, we bring you five of those greatest moments. So, without further ado, let us look at it together.

Quick Overview

Yao Ming’s Best Plays
5. 2002-03 season Houston VS Lakers game
4. 2005 Playoff Series against the Mavericks, Game 2
3. Playoff Series against Lakers in 2009, Game 1
2. Yao’s 41-point score against the Hawks
1. 2009 Playoff Series against Lakers, Game 1

Yao Ming’s Best Plays Moments

This list has been formulated from various trusted sources, including the Bleacher Report

5. 2002-03 season Houston VS Lakers game

One of Yao Ming’s best plays came in the regular-season game in the 2002-03 season when the Houston Rockets faced off with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Houston had Yao on their team, while the Lakers had non-other than Shaquille O’Neal (nicknamed “Shaq”) on their roster. It was the first time Shaq had played against someone bigger than him, and it was the same for Yao.

Yao Ming Vs. Shaq (Source: Fanatics Authentic)

Before the game, Shaq had made insensitive comments now known infamously as the Shaq-talk-Chinese soundbite. But O’Neal later apologized for his insensitive comment, and Yao accepted his apology.

The face-off between these two giants has been dubbed ‘the game where the great wall meets the big Aristotle.’

4. 2005 Playoff Series Against The Mavericks, Game 2

The next Yao Ming best plays moment was in 2005 in a Playoff Series in Game 2. The Houston had Yao and McGrady as they formed one of the league’s most dynamic duos.

In the game, the Rockets face off against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks had their international star forward, Dirk Nowitzki. The two faced-off against each other, heading into the playoffs and their most competitive series meeting in Game 2.

Yao Ming shooting over Brad Miller (Source: Black Eagles)

The Houstons won against the Mavericks with 113-111 to give them a 2-0 lead in the playoff series. 

Yao had a nearly perfect offensive performance as he scored a game-high 33 points on 13-of-14 shooting, including seven successful free-throw attempts, and recorded eight rebounds and two blocks.

3. Playoff Series Against Trail Blazers In 2009, Game 1

The third best play moment takes us back to 2009, Playoff Series in Game 1. The Houston faced off against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Yao, within 24 minutes, was able to inflict damage. He scored Houston’s first seven points. Rick Adelman, his former coach, even called this performance one of the greatest he had ever seen in his career.

Rockets vs. Blazers, Yao Ming On The Right And Joel Przybilla On The Left (Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The game resulted in 108-81, with Houston leading the series. This phenomenal performance by Yao changed in Game 1 changed the whole course of the series.

It helped Houston advance to the second round for the first time since 1997.

2. Yao’s 41-point Score Against The Hawks

On our number 2 is Yao’s game against the Atlanta Hawks in 2004. It was his second season in the NBA, but he had already become one of the power players for the Rockets.

This game was one of the best individual performances of his career, as he recorded 41 points. In 50 minutes game, he recorded 16 rebounds and 7 assists.

Yao Ming playing agains the Hawks (Source: Herald-Tribune)
One Of Yao Ming’s Best Plays; Rockets vs. Hawks (Source: Herald-Tribune)

The opponent team’s Joel Przybilla and Zeljko Rebraca fouled, trying to guard him. However, they failed to stop Yao. Yao knocked down 11-of-13 free-throw attempts in the game.

By the final overtime, he was in his best form. He scored his last eight points and led the Rockets by 122-121 by altering Bob Sura’s layup at the buzzer.

1. 2009 Playoff Series Against Lakers, Game 1

And finally, in our number 1 of the best games played by Yao Ming is the 2009 Playoff Series, Game 1, where Houston played against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Yao helped Houston reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time. However, with five minutes remaining in the game, Yao collided knees with Kobe Bryant.

He was helped off the court by Houston’s trainer, and against the trainer’s advice, he decided not to get his knee examined and returned to the game. 

Yao Ming Vs Koby Bryant
Yao Ming Vs. Koby Bryant (Source: Inter Basket)

Although the Lakers had their momentum on their side, Yao made a crucial 19-foot jump shot. Despite his injury, he made six successful free throws in the final minutes that gave Houston the big lead.

Yao recorded a double-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. He scored eight of his 28 points in the last 4 minutes and 54 seconds.

The Rockets won with a score of 100-92 in Game 1.

After this game, Ming was never the same again. Due to his foot surgery, he missed all the games that season.

Yao also missed all but five-game in the next season. His injuries forced him to retire prematurely.


These were the 5 best Yao Ming playing moments from his phenomenal career before his injuries forced him to retire.

Although his injury robbed him of his prime, Yao is undisputedly one of the best players in NBA history.

Boby Rai
Boby Raihttps://playersbio.com/

Boby Rai

Boby Rai is a dedicated writer who specializes in capturing the essence of sporting excellence through his unique lens. As the creative mind behind numerous sports-centric projects, he brings a fresh perspective to the world of athletics, blending insightful commentary with captivating narratives.


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Armed with a passion for sports and a gift for storytelling, Boby has honed his craft through years of immersive experiences in the field. With a keen eye for detail and an unwavering commitment to authenticity, he continues to inspire and inform readers through his thought-provoking work.

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