AFP June 26 article, original title: 20 years after being drafted by an NBA team, China is still searching for the next Yao Ming US Basketball Hall of Famer, business mogul, cultural ambassador – no other Chinese athlete sits better than Yao Ming have more titles.
On June 26, 2002, the Houston Rockets drafted the center player and launched a brilliant career for him. This experience not only earned him a series of personal accolades, but also made Shanghai-born Yao Ming a household name in both China and the United States. Yao Ming’s mild personality and off-court humor made him one of the fans’ favorites and boosted the NBA’s popularity in China.
No Chinese player has come close to his accomplishments since him, and with the NBA mired in tensions between the U.S. and China, it seems even less likely that one will appear in the future. In 2002, Yao Ming represented an increasingly confident and open China whose economic rise was matched by its global sports prowess. For Chinese fans, Yao’s international stardom embodies the optimism of an emerging nation with global ambitions. Simon Chadwick, director of the Eurasian Sports Industry Center at Emlyon Business School in France, said that Yao Ming “is not only a star player, but also represents a changing world.” Change.” Relations between Beijing and Washington have turned sour in recent years over trade, human rights and other issues. Although there are 5 Chinese athletes who have landed in the NBA, their influence is not comparable to that of Yao Ming.
Fans and experts believe that Chinese players are now unlikely to win hearts on both sides of the Pacific at the same time. “(China-U.S.) relations are not as friendly as they used to be,” said Eric Zhang, a 15-year-old fan. “I think some Chinese players have the ability to play in the NBA, but they can’t reach the level of Yao Ming.”