There will never be another Yao Ming.
There cannot be. Yao was considered too good to be true when rumors of his existence began to trickle out before 2002. Somewhere in China was a 7-foot-6 behemoth with the shooting touch and passing skills of a guard, the shot-blocking instincts of some of the greatest interior defenders ever and the footwork of Hakeem Olajuwon wrapped up in one massive package.
There was no way the rumors could be accurate, so most NBA fans simply assumed they were not.
Then Yao arrived and everyone who had been expecting a bust quickly had their eyes opened to reality. Not only was Yao good, he was great. From 2002 to 2009, Yao was a regular at the NBA All-Star game, and while his vote total may have been padded by his sizable following back East, his inclusion in the game was always warranted.
Yao played in at least 80 games in each of his first three seasons while putting up strong numbers, and in his fourth season he put together an MVP campaign even as injuries cost him nearly two months in the middle of the season. Yao never played at full strength again, although he continued to put up 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks consistently for another three years.
Finally, in 2011, the injuries that inevitably ravage the lower body of such a huge person caught up with him. At just 30 years old, Yao retired. The transformative center, who has spent his retirement doing charitable work, turned 32 on Wednesday.
Check out the top 10 plays of Yao's career in the video below.
Thumbnail via Facebook/Yao Ming