5 Yao Ming Best Plays Moments

Born and raised in Shanghai, the 42 year-old Yao Ming started playing for the Sharks as a teenager.

Later, Yao played on their senior team until 2002. Then, the Houston Rockets drafted him as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

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

Yao Ming of Houston Rockets (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Likewise, Yao was also part of the National team of China. In 2016, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. However, after a series of foot and ankle injuries, he announced his retirement in 2011.

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.

5 Yao Ming Best Plays Moments

This list has been formulated from various trusted sources like OneManFastBreak.net and Bleacherreport. But before hopping at the details, let us take a quick preview.

Yao Ming 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

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. 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 roaster. It was the first time Shaq had played against someone bigger than him and was the same for Yao.

Yao Ming playing against the Lakers (Source: ESPN)
Yao Ming playing against the Lakers (Source: ESPN)

However, 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.

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

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

Yao Ming shooting over Brad Miller (Source: Wikimedia.org)

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

The Houstons edged the Mavericks with 113-111 to give them a 2-0 lead in the playoff series. Yao played a crucial role in putting the Rockets up 111-109. He also helped set the screen that helped McGrady for the game-winning jumper.

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3. Playoff Series against Trail Blazers in 2009, Game 1

The third best play moment takes us back in 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 and 16 of its first 18. 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 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 Houston Rockets.

Yao played alongside Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley. This game was one of the best individual performances of his career, as he recorded 41 points. In 50 minutes game, he also performed 16 rebounds and 7 assists.

Yao Ming playing agains the Hawks (Source: Herald-Tribune)
One of Yao Ming 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 Rockets by 122-121 by altering Bob Sura’s layup at the buzzer.

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1. 2009 Playoff Series against Lakers, Game 1

And finally, in our number 1 of the best games played by Yao Ming is 2009, Playoff Series, Game 1 where Houston played with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was his final full season in NBA.

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.

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

Yao Ming and Kobe Brant (Source: Los Angeles Times)
Yao Ming and Kobe Brant (Source: Los Angeles Times)

Likewise, Yao posted a double-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. He scored eight of his 28 points in the last 4 minutes 54 seconds. The Rockets won with a score of 100-92 in Game 1.

After this game, Yao 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 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 in his prime, Yao is undisputedly one of the best players in NBA history.

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