Height has always mattered in the NBA. Being bigger than other players gives athletes a huge advantage and advances their game. However, it comes with drawbacks too. There have been plenty of big players who, while skilled, struggled due to their size or extended height.
How tall is Yao Ming? His real height is 7’6 (229 cm).
Of all the extremely tall players throughout NBA history, few are as well known as Yao Ming. This guide will look at the big man’s height, see how it compares to other centers, and study how he was able to thrive in a way few anomalies can.
Tall, Fast, or Both
For most athletes, there’s an inverse relationship between size and speed. Shorter players tend to rely on quickness to play defense and score, while big men use their size. That’s been true since the NBA first came about, and it’s held up for most of its long storied history.
Even so, there are a few who have managed to break that mold. Though it’s unlikely for a smaller player to body up well, there have been a few big men who are fast despite having to lug around a few extra pounds. Yao fell into that category, and it’s what made him so special.
A Bit Too Shifty
Today’s NBA is largely dominated by big men who know how to use their body. In the past, the league had plenty of capable centers who, despite their size and skill, couldn’t move that well. They were slow, had trouble running the floor, and didn’t have a lot of touch.
That’s one of the many reasons Yao stood out. He was an extremely big man who had a lot of technical skill and touch. In fact, he played much more like a shifty forward than a bruising big man. It caught many people off guard, and allowed him to operate in a fast-paced offense.
That’s because Yao wasn’t just tall, he was one of the tallest players to ever play in the NBA.
A Giant Among Giants
The humongous center measured 7’6, but he could move like someone half his height. He had no issues running the floor, nor did he have any problems moving around in the post. To put both of those into context, it’s important to look at other players around his height.
In the history of the NBA, only two players have ever been taller than Yao. Those were Gheorghe Muresan and Manute Bol (who both measured 7’7). There have also been three other players (Shawn Bradley, Tacko Fall, Slavko Vranes) who were 7’6.
There have been five 7’4 players, and twelve 7’3 players. Everyone else has been 7’2 or below, with most players at or above 7 feet being rare too.
That short list, as well as the sharp drop off, shows just how rare Yao was as a player. He didn’t just have the height, however, he had the intangibles too.
Where all of the other players were held back due to their size, Yao had no problem adapting to American basketball. His career did get cut short due to various injuries related to his height, but he was a force during his time.
His different skills may not be as impressive in today’s league, but at the time they were almost impossible to find. He was just ahead of everyone else.
Yao Ming wasn’t just tall, he was a true giant. Even in the NBA, he stood out among other centers and quickly established himself as a powerful tool. He may not have had the longest career, but he was incredibly successful compared to everyone