Yao-Mania!June 26 - A new era of Houston Rockets basketball has begun with the selection of Yao Ming as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft. The last time Houston had the honor of selecting first overall, the Rockets chose a skinny kid from the University of Houston named Hakeem Olajuwon with the top pick of the 1984 NBA Draft. Ten years later, Olajuwon dominated the league both offensively and defensively in leading Houston to back-to-back NBA titles. Will the same fate be in store for the Rockets with Ming manning the middle? Hop on Rockets fans, it should be an exciting journey. Yao ready for this?
Rockets Draft GradesThe Rockets drew plenty of national praise with their selections of Yao Ming, Bostjan Nachbar and Tito Maddox in the 2002 NBA Draft. Rockets.com took a peek at what a few of the experts had to say following the draft.
Rockets War Room VideoJune 26 - Rockets.com was on hand in the Rockets war room during draft night to bring you exclusive video highlight clips. See the Rockets staff's celebration of selecting Yao, Tomjanovich's and Dawson's comments on the draft, the sweating out of Indiana's pick, and more!
Coming To AmericaPrior to the Rockets' selection of Yao Ming first overall in the 2002 NBA Draft, no international player had ever been taken with the first pick of the NBA draft without first having played collegiately in the United States. The highest drafted player to come into the NBA from an international basketball league was Spain's Pau Gasol, whom Memphis picked third overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. Gasol stood with Dirk Nowitzki and Vladimir Radmanovic as the only international lottery picks to never play college basketball in the United States. Below is a look at the five highest drafted international players with no college experience (prior to Ming). Each of these players was taken in the first round of one of the last six drafts.
|Pick No.||Player||Year Drafted||Team||Birthplace|
|3||Pau Gasol||2001||Memphis||Barcelona, Spain|
|9||Dirk Nowitzki||1998||Dallas||Wurzburg, Germany|
|12||Vladimir Radmanovic||2001||Seattle||Trebinje, Yugoslavia|
|14||Predrag Stojakovic||1996||Sacramento||Belgrade, Yugoslavia|
|16||Hidayet Turkoglo||2000||Sacramento||Istanbul, Turkey|
The Biggest And The BaddestOf the 46 all-time No. 1 picks since 1957, 13 of them have measured in at seven feet or taller. Coincidentally, 13 of these top picks also weighed in at 250 pounds or more. Shaquille O'Neal stands as the only No. 1 pick to enter the NBA at more than 300 pounds, while Yao Ming stands as the tallest all-time No. 1 pick at 7-5. Below is a look at the 13 heaviest and the 13 tallest all-time No. 1 picks.
|The 7-Footers||Height||The 250-Pounders||Weight|
|1. Yao Ming||7-5||1. Shaquille O'Neal||301|
|2. Ralph Sampson||7-4||2. Yao Ming||296|
|3. Lew Alcindor||7-2||3. Wilt Chamberlain||275|
|4. Wilt Chamberlain||7-1||4. Derrick Coleman||270|
|4. David Robinson||7-1||5. Brad Daugherty||269|
|4. Shaquille O'Neal||7-1||5. Michael Olowokandi||269|
|7. Joe Barry Carroll||7-0||7. Lew Alcindor||267|
|7. Brad Daugherty||7-0||8. Elton Brand||260|
|7. Tim Duncan||7-0||8. Tim Duncan||260|
|7. Patrick Ewing||7-0||8. Bob Lanier||260|
|7. Akeem Olajuwon||7-0||11. Patrick Ewing||255|
|7. Michael Olowokandi||7-0||11. Akeem Olajuwon||255|
|7. Bill Walton||7-0||13. David Robinson||250|
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International IntrigueOver the last decade, the impact of international players in the NBA has significantly increased. On opening night of this past season, a record 52 international players from 31 different countries resided on NBA rosters. Over the last six NBA drafts, 62 international players have been selected, with 32 going in the first round and 30 in the second round. Ten or more international players have been drafted in four of the past five years. In 2000 a record seven foreign-born players were taken in the first round, with a record 14 international players being drafted overall. Of the international players taken in the past six drafts, four have become All-Stars (Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic), two have been named Rookie of the Year (Duncan and Pau Gasol), and one has been named MVP (Duncan).
"One" From AbroadBefore Yao Ming was selected with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft, a player born outside of the United States had been selected first five times over the last 45 years. However, each of these players has played college basketball in America before entering the draft. Interestingly, all of these players were centers in college, with all but Mychal Thompson measuring in at seven feet tall. Below is a look at the five foreign-born players taken with the first overall selection.
|Mychal Thompson||1978||Portland Trail Blazers||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Akeem Olajuwon||1984||Houston Rockets||Lagos, Nigeria|
|Patrick Ewing||1985||New York Knicks||Kingston, Jamaica|
|Tim Duncan||1997||San Antonio Spurs||St. Croix, Virgin Islands|
|Michael Olowokandi||1998||Los Angeles Clippers||Lagos, Nigeria|
Rockets Secure No. 1 PickThe Rockets entered the 2002 NBA Draft Lottery with just slightly less than a nine percent chance of walking away with the top pick. The lottery held true to form until the fifth pick when the Denver Nuggets were awarded the fifth selection. This meant the Rockets, who entered the lottery with the fifth-best chance of receiving one of the top three spots, had indeed moved up into the top three. After revealing envelopes bearing the logos of Memphis, Golden State and Chicago for the second through fourth picks, Rockets representative Steve Francis let out a smile, knowing the Rockets had secured the top pick in the draft.
CD Speaks With The MediaTwo days after the Draft Lottery, Rockets GM Carroll Dawson conducted a conference call with members of the national media to answer questions about the Rockets' No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
Rockets Draft 2001The Rockets pulled off a draft-day stunner last year when they sent their three first-round selections (Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins, Brandon Armstrong) to New Jersey for the rights to Eddie Griffin. This was one of those deals that has worked for both teams, as Jefferson, Collins and Armstrong helped lead the Nets to the 2002 NBA Finals, while Griffin showed flashes of brilliance during a solid rookie campaign that has Rockets fans excited about his potential to do the same for Houston in the future.
Rockets Draft 2001 Video
Rudy T. on Draft Night
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Rockets War Room Video
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Welcome Eddie and Terence!
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Rockets Draft HistoryDo you know who was the first player drafted in Rockets franchise history? If you guessed current Miami Heat Head Coach Pat Riley, you either have a great memory or you are indeed a serious Rockets fan. Riley, who was chosen by the San Diego Rockets with the seventh overall selection in the First Round of the 1967 NBA Draft, played three seasons for the Rockets before moving on to the L.A. Lakers in 1970. If you'd like to see EVERY player the Rockets have drafted in franchise history, click here to take a look.