Well-wishing message for Yao from NBA Commissioner Stern

Updated: 2011-07-20 18:01


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Since entering the league as the number one draft pick in the 2002 NBA draft. Yao Ming has been a transformational player for the NBA, and a testament of the globalization of our game. His dominant play, his endearing demeanor, his extensive humanitarian efforts, and really his great sense of humor has made him an international fan favorite, And provided by itself an extraordinary bridge between basketball fans in the United States and basketball fans in China, and citizens of both countries. I very much want to personal congratulate Yao on his distinguished playing career and wish him success as he transitions into the next phase of his life. Importantly, we look forward to working with Yao in continuing the growth of the game of basketball in China, a growth to which he has already contributed so much.

I remember the 2002 NBA Draft. The thrill really of Yao being picked first and the interview from the headquarters of CNN China that he went into to talk to us, and to see his reaction, and America's reaction to Yao. And, it grew from their. Yao has been without question a transformational player for our league, and a source of enormous pride to the people of China, and the people of Chinese decent in the United States. I remember the early years, the particular outpouring of Chinese Americans who came to see this giant, this talented…talented, good sense of humor, hard working, humanitarian focus player do so much for so many people, particularly the growth of basketball. I enjoyed meeting Yao in my offices, I enjoyed speaking with him at games, but most important he carried himself with a dignity and a grace representing China with enormous pride and great professionalism, and wonderful manners.

I'm really very happy that we'll be working with Yao to continue the growth of our game in China. He is iconic in the United States, he's iconic in China, and he's committed to the growth of basketball particularly at the grass roots level, but also at the professional level through his ownership interest in the Shanghai Sharks. So, for us, it's really not a complete goodbye and I'm so happy to say that we're looking forward to working with Yao in the next stage of his life, and the next stage of his basketball life.