When you look at the tallest players in NBA history the top of the list, no pun intended, goes like this:
- Gheorghe Mureșan, 7-7
- Manute Bol, 7-7
- Slavko Vraneš, 7-6
- Shawn Bradley, 7-6
- Yao Ming, 7-6
- Chuck Nevitt, 7-5
- Pavel Podkolzin, 7-5
- Sim Bhullar, 7-5
- Tacko Fall, 7-5
Most of these guys were novelties and really couldn’t play basketball much all. But one of them is not like the others: Yao Ming was a legitimate basketball player.
When you look at this video of some of his best plays, on the one hand, you do see a lot of dunks. But on the other, you see a guy who could pass, who had great timing on blocked shots and who had truly outstanding footwork.
He really could play.
He wasn’t necessarily a spectacular athlete but he put the time in and it paid off. As Duke learned in 2019 against Central Florida’s Tacko Fall, at some points, 7-5 is just tough to deal with.
But as you’ll see here, Yao outplayed guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace and really could maneuver in the lane. In spots, in fact, his footwork and post moves remind one a great deal of Boston Celtic great Kevin McHale.
Unfortunately his career was cut short by injuries that limited him greatly in his later years. However, the Yao family may not be done with basketball just yet: Yao Ming married a professional basketball player who is 6-3. They have a daughter who is now 11 and is already about 5-6. She seems certain to grow a good bit more and if she wants to play herself, she’ll have excellent coaching at home.