By Jonah Sharf
On July 8, 2011, Yao Ming announced his retirement from basketball after nine seasons in the NBA, citing foot injuries that limited him to just five games the prior season. Yao is considered one of the biggest factors in the huge popularity of basketball and the NBA in China. When he was selected with the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Houston Rockets, he became the first international player ever to be selected first overall without having previously played U.S. college basketball. The 7’6” Yao averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game in his career, and was an 8-time NBA All-Star.