With Yao Ming's nine years in NBA, watching Houston Rockets matches has become a ritual for many Chinese basketball fans as well as attracting a whole host of other supporters. In what is known as the 'Yao Ming Effect' the NBA also has more and more influence with the Chinese Basketball Association, known as the CBA.
The southern American city of Houston may not ring a bell with many Chinese, but when it's linked with Yao Ming and the Rockets, it does.
The Toyota Center, home of the Rockets, holds 18,000. It's well known among basketball fans in China, as it's seen almost daily on TV. What's unique about the stadium is that inside there is barely an English advertisement visible, aside from the NBA logo.
Bao Mingxiao, researcher of General Administration of Sport of China, said, "Chinese enterprises are mostly in a stage of development, and they need a good carrier for their message. Yao Ming is not only a good image within the NBA but he provides a good platform for companies to promote themselves."
In October 2002, Houston welcomed Yao Ming with the poster: "Let's be part of something big."
After a slow start, where Yao only averaged 3 points in his first six games, he started playing better and better with extra coaching and fitness work to adapt to his new environment. His improvement and his personality made him a sponsor's dream.
The Yao Ming Effect is also influencing the CBA, which actually has no professional connection with the NBA.
In the 2007-2008 season, Guangdong Dongguan introduced Mike Harris. The former Houston Rockets' bench player helped Dongguan into the CBA playoffs that season, and Harris won the CBA Slam Dunk Competition in 2008.
Yao Ming's other Rockets teammate, Kirk Snyder, worked with Zhejiang Wanma, another CBA team. His average ranks him 2nd this season.
And former Rockets player Benzi Well also attracted Chinese fans to watch him play after joining the Shanxi Zhongyu.
In 2009, Yao Ming invested in his former team, the Shanghai Sharks, the CBA team from his hometown. He also does a lot of charity work.
Prof. Xu Jingnan of Beijing Sports University, said, I think it's quite good for professional sports especially for the development of CBA clubs since he has set a good example. And also, I think it benefits the development of other professional sports and leagues in China.
As a giant in the game, Yao will continue to influence the sports industry well beyond his days on the court.
(CNTV July 21, 2011)