THROWBACK: Rockets draft Yao Ming with #1 pick
NBA.com Global on Jun 26, 2018 03:04 PM
HOUSTON, TX - 2002: Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets finishes a dunk against Michael Jordan #23 of the Washington Wizards during a 2002 NBA game at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
By Jeff Case, NBA.com
Standout big men such as Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Moses Malone helped the Houston Rockets make their mark on the NBA at large. As the 2002 Draft approached, the Rockets kept that trend going by using their No. 1 overall pick in that draft to think big again.
On June 27, 2002, the Rockets made Yao Ming the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He became the highest Draft pick to come directly from an international league, previously starring with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association.
As a rookie, Yao averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks as Houston went 43-39. He was an All-Star starter in 2003, marking the first of seven straight All-Star Game appearances.
Although injuries slowed him throughout his career, Yao became a Hall of Famer in 2016. He had his No. 11 jersey retired by the Rockets in 2017 after averaging 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in his NBA career.