My Amazing Journey -- Yao Ming

Getting to the NBA is not easy. Of the millions of kids playing basketball around the world today, only a very small percentage will make it to the Association. Along the way, there will be highs and lows, ups and downs.

As they prepare for the 2007-08 season, 30 current players reflect back on their journey to the NBA and some of the things they went through to fulfill their dream of playing basketball for a living.


What was the biggest obstacle you overcame to reach the NBA?
Yao Ming:
Conditioning, I am not very athletic player. Of course the conditioning would be a problem for me because of my size. My speed would be a little bit slower than a smaller player. And in the NBA the transition is very fast, so if you want to play you have to catch up to the speed.

Growing up, what did basketball mean to you?
YM:
I am pretty lucky because basketball is my favorite sport and also it is my job.

Who was your basketball hero and why?
YM:
When I was young, I watched a lot of Hakeem Olajuwon play, Charles Barkley, of course Michael Jordan. When I was younger, I watched Chinese players because we didn't have the NBA games live in China yet. So when I was growing up, it was mixed, a lot of Chinese players and some NBA players.

What is your favorite childhood basketball memory?
YM:
The first time I dunked. It was pretty late, 15 years old I think.

Best piece of basketball advice you received was...
YM:
I have gone through a lot of coaches. Every coach has helped me a lot. Because I focus I learned a lot from every coach.

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to play in the NBA?
YM:
Get stronger, keep practicing everyday, follow your dreams and one day it will be true.

How old were you when you received your first basketball and what did it feel like to have your very own?
YM:
I started playing basketball when I was 9. I forgot (what it felt like), it is almost 20 years ago.

When did you realize you had serious game?
YM:
It is hard to say. I think I never really am a great player right now. I am a player still looking to get better.

Did it ever strike you in the middle of a game in front of a packed house, "Man, I can't believe I'm here..."
YM:
A couple of years ago, but not now.

How proud is your family that you made it to the NBA?
YM:
Pretty proud ... pretty proud.

"I am a player still looking to get better."
"I am a player still looking to get better."