The Time Is Yao

Yao Ming has become an international sensation in his first NBA season, capturing the public's attention with television commercials and magazine covers. But it is his play that has most people talking. As the polls close for 2002-2003 NBA Rookie of the Year balloting, here is a sampling of what some of the voters have written:

"This race tightened up as the season went on, with Yao leading early, Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire emerging in the middle and Miami's Caron Butler making a strong push at the end. But Stoudemire didn't sustain his numbers any better than Yao, and Butler thrived for a bad team, where someone has to score. So for surviving all the hype, for handling the spotlight with such grace, for defusing a lot of yappy situations against Shaquille O'Neal and for all the promise he still shows, we're going with Yao."
- Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"If it's close or anyone other than Yao and Amare Stoudemire get a vote, someone's either only looking at stats or repaying a favor. Stoudemire is extraordinary for a high school player and is the year's most athletic rookie, but this isn't the MSROY (Most Surprising Rookie of the Year) award. The Suns don't (yet) run their offense through Amare the way the Rockets do with Yao. Opponents offensively and defensively don't make special plans to counteract him the way they do Yao, either. Kings center Vlade Divac: "To me, Rookie of the Year has to change the way his team plays. Stoudemire is a role player. Yao is a key player."
- Ric Bucher, ESPN The Magazine

"But while Stoudemire is the surprise rookie of the year and the most athletic rookie, he hasn’t had the same overall impact as Yao. The Suns don’t run their offense through him the way the Rockets do through Yao. Meanwhile, at the other end of the court, Yao’s size allows him to change and alter shots on a regular basis. It’s become trendy among some NBA cognoscenti to contend that Yao is still more hype than substance. They note that the 7-foot-5 phenom has benefited in the rookie race from his dubious All-Star starting berth and greater number of TV appearances. But Yao also has had to deal with the pressure and responsibilities of being the No. 1 overall pick and the unofficial Chinese ambassador. Yao shoots a high percentage (50.9 percent), passes extremely well and impacts the game more on the defensive end. The fact that he’s excelled while being besieged by media and fans everywhere he goes is an added factor. It’s a close call, but we’ve got to give it to Yao."
- Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated

"It required two seconds with any coach before the season even began for them to say the 7-5 Chinese center was going to be an immediate impact player, and they were right. Terrific shooting range with touch, stunningly great passing skills, good shot-blocking instincts and a surprisingly strong lower body made Yao an instant success."
- Mike Kahn, CBS Sportsline

"A show of hands: Who said Yao had a chance to be a productive player this season? Not I. Stoudemire has been magnificent in helping the Suns get to the playoffs. But no one has endured the attention and pressure Yao has. He has handled it with grace and professionalism."
- Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune

"For months we surmised that the No. 8 spot in the West would be the ROY tiebreaker between Yao and Suns sensation Amare Stoudemire. At the buzzer, even though Stoudemire and the Suns claimed it, we just couldn't deny Yao. Manly as Amare was, leaping from high schooler to NBA impact player a year after we had all lost faith in prep stars, Yao made a more daunting and historic transition, coming all the way from China to the heady heights of starting center in the All-Star Game and, for one night in January, legitimate Shaq foil."
- Marc Stein,

"Yao is given the slight edge here for being a better all-around player than the Suns' Stoudemire, 20, who will be a force when his offensive game develops and he learns to limit his foul trouble."
- Brad Weinstein, San Francisco Chronicle

Fact of the Week
Yao Ming stands as the only rookie to rank among NBA's Top 20 in three statistical categories this season, as he ranks tied for 12th in field goal percentage, 16th in blocks per game and 18th in rebounds per game.

Yao-cetera ...

  • Yao Ming stands with Drew Gooden as the only rookies to average double figures in points with at least five rebounds in each month this season.
  • Yao Ming stands as the only player to rank in the top two in both rookie scoring and rookie rebounding.
  • Yao Ming blocked three or more shots 26 times, as Houston boasted a 22-4 record in these games.
  • Yao Ming helped the Rockets to an increase of 15 wins from last year, which trails only Golden State for the most improvement by a team this season.

    (Rookie Rank)
    (Rookie Rank)
    (Rookie Rank)
    (Rookie Rank)
    (Rookie Rank)


    13.5 (T2)

    8.2 (2)

    .498 (3)

    1.79 (1)

    17.65 (1)

    Amare Stoudemire, Suns

    13.5 (T2)

    8.8 (1)

    .472 (4)

    1.06 (T2)

    15.40 (2)

    Drew Gooden, Magic

    12.5 (5)

    6.5 (5)

    .457 (5)

    0.50 (10)

    12.40 (6)

    Caron Butler, Heat

    15.4 (1)

    5.1 (7)

    .416 (10)

    0.40 (T12)

    14.33 (4)

    Gordon Giricek, Magic

    12.3 (6)

    3.1 (12)

    .436 (7)

    0.11 (25)

    9.72 (7)

    Key: PPG - Points Per Game; RPG - Rebounds Per Game; FG% - Field Goal Percentage; BPG - Blocks Per Game; Efficiency - Formula used by the NBA to determine a player's overall value
    (Efficiency Formula: ((PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK) - ((FGA - FGM) + (FTA - FTM) + TO)) / G)


    Yao Meets Shaq

    Yao's First Home Game

    Yao Arrives

    NBA Draft: Yao The Man

    Game Highlights

    Yao Interview

    Welcome Yao

    Yao Heats Up

    YAO BABY...

    Vote For Your Favorite Yao Moment

    We've assembled a few video clips of the most memorable plays of Yao Ming's spectacular rookie season. View them here and then let us know which one is your favorite.

    Photo Galleries
  • 10/23/02 - Yao Ming's First Game
  • 10/22/02 - Yao Ming's First Practice
  • 10/20/02 - Yao Ming Arrives!
  • 9/3/02 - Yao Ming at the World Championships and first time in a Rockets uniform
  • 6/24/02 - Yao Ming Pre-Draft
  • 6/19/02 - Rudy T. and Carroll Dawson Meet Yao Ming

    Yao Ming In Mandarin

    The Houston Rockets have become the first NBA team to broadcast a weekly Chinese-language radio show, The Houston Rockets Big Hour, presented by Yanjing Ale and State Farm. Each weekly episode features an interview segment with Yao Ming.

  • in Simplied Chinese
  • in Traditional Chinese

    The Future is Yao

    Yao Ming initiated his online journal at, giving you insights into the Rockets rookie's first season in the NBA. Yao discusses his progress both on and off the court, including how he's adjusting to his new teammates, the city of Houston and a whole new culture.

  • December 10 Journal
  • November 8 Journal
  • See what the rest of the NBA is saying about Yao Ming

    Yao Star

    Yao ranked fourth overall in All-Star balloting and led all Western Conference centers with 1,286,324 votes to become the 16th rookie in NBA history to be named an All-Star starter and the first rookie starter since Grant Hill in 1995. In NBA history, Yao became the sixth rookie center to start an All-Star Game.

  • VIDEO: Yao Ming slams home his only bucket of the 2003 NBA All-Star Game avi | mov
  • 2/10/03 - Photo Gallery: Yao Ming All-Star 2003
  • 1/23/03 - Yao To Shine Bright in All-Star Game

    Rookie of the Month

    Yao established himself as a legitimate top of the line NBA center by averaging 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.73 blocked shots during the month of December, earning him NBA Rookie of the Month honors. Yao was then recognized with similar honors after another solid month of February in which he posted averages of 16.5 and 8.8 rebounds a game.

  • Yao Nabs Rookie Honor
  • Yao Named NBA’s Western Conference Rookie of the Month

    International Man of Mystery

    Oct. 20, 2002 (Houston) - The Rockets introduced Yao Ming, the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, to the local media. Read a transcript of the event with Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, general manager Carroll Dawson, Yao and interpreter Colin Pine.

  • Yao speaks to the media prior to his first NBA regular season game

    Yao Around the Globe
  • 9/8/02 - Coverage of Yao Ming's Performance at the 2002 World Championships
  • 8/26/02 - U.S. Players Impressed With Yao
  • 8/22/02 - Yao Ming Impressive In First U.S. Appearance
  • 8/16/02 - Yao Ming Meets With Media In Canada
  • 8/9/02 - 2002 FIBA World Basketball Championship For Men
  • 7/24/02 - Vince Carter Meets Yao Ming

    Yao Ready For This?

    6/26/02 - 2002 NBA Draft coverage
    A new era of Houston Rockets basketball began 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 Yao manning the middle?

  • 7/3/02 - Rockets Draft Grades
  • 6/26/02 - Rockets Draft Central 2002
  • 6/26/02 - Yao Ming's post-draft chat on
  • 6/14/02 - Mock Draft Madness
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