Tracy McGrady

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Posted by kaori 02/25/2009 @ 12:18

Tags : tracy mcgrady, basketball players, basketball, sports

News headlines
Morey Q&A: Secrets of the Rockets' GM - ESPN
Keri: How does the team play differently with Tracy McGrady out? Morey: It's a very different team with him out. The staple of the offense was Yao and Tracy running the pick-and-roll. With Tracy out, it's more what people would think about with Coach...
Could Tracy McGrady Be Traded to the New York Knicks? - Bleacher Report
According to the NY Daily News, the Rockets' Tracy McGrady could be shipped to MSG this summer. T-Mac, who will be in the final year of his contract next season, would see his $22 million contract come off the books next year and could wind up possibly...
Sporting News Blogs: - SportingNews.com
Want to win autographs from Dwight Howard (pictured), Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady and Josh Smith? Watch this video to find out how. Over the weekend, I posted a video of Little Mac training for his big comeback into the ring when Punch-Out!! drops on...
No Yao, no McGrady... NO PROBLEM - Rockets shock Lakers - BetUs.com
If someone was to say that the Houston would be able to beat the Lakers in the playoffs with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming both out of the lineup I'd bet the farm against it. No one gave the Rockets a chance with Yao out and the Lakers already taking game...
Good Confronts Evil in the NBA Playoffs - The Exception Magazine
The face of the Rockets since 2004, shooting guard Tracy mcgrady, was lost for the season to microfracture surgery in February. It has been well-chronicled that mcgrady has never been on a team that has won a playoff series....
Tracy McGrady: "I don't even think the Cavs can beat my Rockets in ... - The Queensberry Rules
After all, we're talking about Tracy McGrady, the greatest loser in NBA history and a guy whose name will arouse laughter and jokes every time it is mentioned once he's done (which may, actually, be now). If you asked LeBron or Kobe who they think is...
Live chat with Alan Hahn - Newsday
Would the Knicks need to be smoking that much herb to trade for Tracy McGrady? Now I thought that was quite clever and it didn't make the cut. We all have our crosses to bare. I'm not upset. That was funny but it wasn't a good question because you...
Richard Justice says Rockets more focused without McGrady - SI.com
Justice explained that Ron Artest that had trouble with Tracy McGrady. Artest had trouble deferring to McGrady ... especially because McGrady wasn't himself this year. When McGrady was out there, no one knew whose team it was. He said they were walking...
Houston Rockets Finally Blast Off Without Tracy McGrady - Bleacher Report
Steve Francis for Tracy McGrady? "Believe me, something special is going to happen," T-Mac said at his introductory press conference. Everyone knew he possessed the God-given talent to deliver a championship. They learned the hard way that he lacked...

Tracy McGrady

Entering the league after graduating from high school, McGrady eventually became a seven-time All-Star. He led the league in scoring in 2003 and 2004. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic before being traded to the Houston Rockets in 2004. McGrady was ranked #75 on SLAM magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of All Time in 2003. McGrady has never advanced to the second round of the playoffs in his whole career despite his seven trips to the playoffs: one with the Toronto Raptors, three with the Orlando Magic and three with the Houston Rockets. McGrady's style of play has been compared to that of George Gervin.

Tracy McGrady played high school basketball at Auburndale High School in Auburndale, Florida for three years. He then transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy, in Durham, North Carolina. McGrady created a national buzz after his performance in the Adidas ABCD Camp, where the best high school players in the U.S. are invited annually. He was named High School Player of the Year by USA Today.

McGrady was drafted ninth overall in the first round of the 1997 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause had arranged a draft-day trade to send Scottie Pippen to the Vancouver Grizzlies for the fourth overall selection, which he would have used to draft McGrady. Krause was forced to call off the deal when Michael Jordan threatened to retire if it was made.

In McGrady's first two seasons with the Raptors, he averaged less than 10 points per game, mainly coming off the bench. In his second season, he began playing alongside his third cousin, Vince Carter, who would go on to win the Rookie of the Year Award that season. The 1999–2000 season was McGrady's first breakout season in the NBA. He was a starter in 34 games out of 79, averaging 15.4 points per game, and a career-high 1.9 blocks per game. McGrady also competed in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, finishing third, behind Carter and Steve Francis.

In 2000, the duo of McGrady and Carter helped lead the Raptors to the playoffs, for the first time in franchise history. However, the team was swept 3–0 by the New York Knicks in the first round. McGrady was often overshadowed by Carter during his time in Toronto, and he became a free agent in the summer of 2000. In the off-season, he expressed interest in playing for family and friends in his home state of Florida.

On August 3, 2000, McGrady was dealt to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade deal. In Orlando, he played alongside Grant Hill, who had been acquired that summer in hope of bringing Orlando back among the Eastern Conference's elite teams. However, ankle injury limited Hill to only 4 games and McGrady became the leader and 1st scoring option of the team. For the first time in his career McGrady was selected as an All-Star when he was voted by the fans to start in the midseason classic for the Eastern Conference. At season's end he was presented with the 2001 NBA Most Improved Player Award. Even though McGrady had elevated his game from solid contributor to star, the Magic were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The following season, McGrady continued his great play. With Hill struggling with injuries, the Magic was a one-man show. He made his second All-Star team and First Team All-NBA while averaging 25 points per game. The Magic posted a 44–38 record for the year but they were beat again in the first round of the playoffs, this time by the Charlotte Hornets.

In the 2002–03 season, McGrady averaged 32.1 points per game and captured the NBA scoring title, becoming the youngest player to do so since the ABA-NBA merger. Despite McGrady's personal accolades, the Magic failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. In a rather infamous moment, during the 2003 NBA Playoffs, the Magic (who were an #8 seed) surprisingly took a 3-1 series lead against the heavily favored #1 seed Detroit Pistons. Prior to the fifth game in Detroit, McGrady was quoted as saying that how wonderful it was to "finally be in the second round (of the playoffs)". Orlando, however, lost Games 5, 6, and 7 by an average of more than 20 points, and Detroit advanced to the second round.

In the 2003–04 season, he once again captured the NBA scoring title, averaging 28 points per game, and set a career high with 62 points against the Washington Wizards on March 10, 2004. With this performance, he became the fourth player in the past 12 years to score over 60 points in a game.

On June 29, 2004, McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, and Reece Gaines were traded to the Houston Rockets in a seven-player deal that sent Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato to the Magic. In his first year with the Houston Rockets, McGrady teamed with 7'6" center Yao Ming, to end the season ranked 5th in the Western Conference. On December 9, 2004, he scored 13 points in the last 33 seconds of a game against the San Antonio Spurs, with four consecutive 3 pointers (one of which was part of a four-point play), including a steal and the game-winning 3 pointer with 1.7 seconds left in the game that helped the Rockets win 81–80.

Despite McGrady's play in the first round of the 2005 NBA Playoffs, Houston was eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in game seven by 40 points.

In the early 2005–06 season, McGrady missed eight games because of multiple back spasms. His back problems resurfaced on January 8, 2006 when he had to be taken out at halftime in a game against the Denver Nuggets on a stretcher to the hospital because of severe back spasms. He had been out for five games. Since his return, the spasms have still been a problem for McGrady. In the 2005–06 season the Rockets were 2–15 in games he did not play in and 2–16 in games McGrady did not finish. While McGrady was injured for five games with his back injury, the Rockets did not win a single game. Other injuries include him falling on his tailbone in a game against the Indiana Pacers.

In the 2006–07 season, McGrady started out slowly, and after missing 7 games with back spasms he visited a doctor. In an interview with TNT, McGrady said that he thought that his body was slowing down. He believed that he could no longer be as explosive as he was in the past due to his back injury. Shortly after another bout with back spasms, McGrady went to Waco, Texas where Dr. John Patterson performed "Synergy Release Therapy" to cure his chronic back problems, particularly the back spasms. Since Yao Ming was having another breakout season, he was deferring to Yao as the number one option. However, since Yao went down with a leg injury, McGrady stepped up his overall play, re-establishing himself as one of the game's premier players and by doing so has led Houston to the 5th best record in the league. On December 29, 2006, he became the third youngest player in NBA history to reach 14,000 points and 4,000 rebounds. However, in the playoffs, the Rockets lost their first round series to the Utah Jazz 4-3, again preventing McGrady from advancing to the second round of the playoffs. A tear fell down his cheek during the press-conference after losing game seven 103–99 to the Utah Jazz in the 2007 Playoffs. Prior to the series with the Jazz, McGrady had stated in an interview with Stephen A. Smith that if he and the Rockets failed to make it out of the first round again, it was "on me". The Jazz eliminated the Rockets in six games, despite McGrady recording 40 points and 10 rebounds in the decisive Game Six, a 113-91 loss.

On February 18 2009, McGrady announced on his website that he would have surgery on his left knee and miss the remainder of the 2008-09 season. He had already missed 18 games before the All-Star break, including a two-week stretch in January, and said before the season that his knee was not healed from his off-season surgery. Head coach Rick Adelman, who found out about the announcement when he read the newspaper in the morning, criticized McGrady for not informing the team of the decision. He decided to have microfracture surgery in Chicago on February 24, 2009.

McGrady is currently under a contract which will end following the 2009–10 NBA season, and the contract is worth an estimated $21.1 million per year.

McGrady has three children—daughters Layla Clarice, Laycee Aloe, and son Laymen Lamar—with his wife CleRenda Harris, whom he had dated for 10 years. Their son was born on December 27, 2005 during a 82–74 loss against the Utah Jazz in which McGrady left during halftime to see his girlfriend going into labor. The couple were married on September 12, 2006 in Mexico. McGrady and Vince Carter are third cousins; McGrady learned that his grandmother and Carter's grandmother were cousins at a family reunion while he was still in high school and Carter played at the University of North Carolina. The two played together with the Toronto Raptors for two years before McGrady left for free agency. After McGrady left, he and Carter had a short feud, but this was resolved in a short period of time.

Tracy has a younger brother Chance McGrady who was a part of the National Finalist Memphis Tigers basketball team but saw limited playing time.

In 2002, McGrady signed a lifetime partnership with Adidas, agreeing to an endorsement deal that will last through his playing career and beyond. He also appeared on the cover of NBA Live 07.

McGrady has traveled to the Darfurian refugee camps in Chad with John Prendergast and Omer Ismail of the ENOUGH Project. McGrady is actively recruiting NBA players to support a sister schools initiative linking schools in Darfurian refugee camps to American middle schools, high schools and universities.

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan and Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill game honoring the 1957 and 1982 men's basketball teams.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963) is a retired American professional basketball player and active businessman. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

After a stand-out career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as one of the stars of the league, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line at Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." He also gained a reputation as one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat." Though Jordan abruptly retired from basketball at the beginning of the 1993-94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but he returned for two more NBA seasons in 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and three All-Star MVP, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA record for highest career regular season scoring average with 30.12 points per game, as well as averaging a record 33.4 points per game in the playoffs. In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He is currently a finalist to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jordan is also noted for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike's Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today. Jordan also starred in the 1996 feature film Space Jam. He is currently a part-owner and Managing Member of Basketball Operations of the Charlotte Bobcats in North Carolina.

Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Deloris (née Peoples), who worked in banking, James R. Jordan, Sr., an equipment supervisor. His family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, when he was a toddler. Jordan attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, where he anchored his athletic career by playing baseball, football, and basketball. He tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 5'11" (1.80 m), he was deemed too short to play at that level and was cut from the team. The following summer, however, he grew four inches (10 cm) and trained rigorously. Upon earning a spot on the varsity roster, Jordan averaged about 20 points per game over his final two seasons of high school play. As a senior, he was selected to the McDonald's All-American Team after averaging a triple-double: 29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists.

In 1981, Jordan earned a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in cultural geography. As a freshman in coach Dean Smith's team-oriented system, he was named ACC Freshman of the Year after he averaged 13.4 points per game (ppg) on 53.4% shooting (field goal percentage). He made the game-winning jump shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Georgetown, which was led by future NBA rival Patrick Ewing. Jordan later described this shot as the major turning point in his basketball career. During his three seasons at North Carolina, he averaged 17.7 ppg on 54.0% shooting, and added 5.0 rebounds per game (rpg). After winning the Naismith and the Wooden College Player of the Year awards in 1984, Jordan left North Carolina one year before his scheduled graduation to enter the 1984 NBA Draft. The Chicago Bulls selected Jordan with the third overall pick, after Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets) and Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers). Jordan returned to North Carolina to complete his degree in 1986.

During his first season in the NBA, Jordan averaged 28.2 ppg on 51.5% shooting. He quickly became a fan favorite even in opposing arenas, and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading "A Star is Born" just over a month into his professional career. Jordan was also voted in as an All-Star starter by the fans in his rookie season. Controversy arose before the All-Star game when word surfaced that several veteran players, led by Isiah Thomas, were upset by the amount of attention Jordan was receiving. This led to a so called "freeze-out" on Jordan, where players refused to pass him the ball throughout the game. The controversy left Jordan relatively unaffected when he returned to regular season play, and he would go on to be voted Rookie of the Year. The Bulls finished the season 38–44, and lost in the first round of the playoffs in four games to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jordan's second season was cut short by a broken foot which caused him to miss 64 games. Despite Jordan's injury and a 30–52 record, the Bulls made the playoffs. Jordan recovered in time to participate in the playoffs and performed well upon his return. Against a 1985–86 Boston Celtics team that is often considered one of the greatest in NBA history, Jordan set the still-unbroken record for points in a playoff game with 63 in Game 2. The Celtics, however, managed to sweep the series.

Jordan had recovered completely by the 1986–87 season, and had one of the most prolific scoring seasons in NBA history. He became the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to score 3,000 points in a season, averaging a league high 37.1 points on 48.2% shooting. In addition, Jordan demonstrated his defensive prowess, as he became the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season. Despite Jordan's success, Magic Johnson won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. The Bulls reached 40 wins, and advanced to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. However, they were again swept by the Celtics.

Jordan led the league in scoring again in the 1987–88 season, averaging 35.0 ppg on 53.5% shooting and won his first league MVP award. He was also named the Defensive Player of the Year—a rarity for a guard—as he had averaged 1.6 blocks and a league high 3.16 steals per game. The Bulls finished 50–32, and made it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in Jordan's career, as they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. However, the Bulls then lost in five games to the more experienced Detroit Pistons, who were led by Isiah Thomas and a group of physical players known as the "Bad Boys".

In the 1988–89 season, Jordan again led the league in scoring, averaging 32.5 ppg on 53.8% shooting from the field, along with 8 rpg and 8 assists per game (apg). The Bulls finished with a 47–35 record, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks along the way. The Cavaliers series included a career highlight for Jordan when he hit a series winning shot over Craig Ehlo in the closing moments of the deciding fifth game of the series. However, the Pistons again defeated the Bulls, this time in six games, by utilizing their "Jordan Rules" method of guarding Jordan, which consisted of double and triple teaming him every time he touched the ball.

The Bulls entered the 1989–90 season as a team on the rise, with their core group of Jordan and young improving players like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, and under the guidance of new coach Phil Jackson. Jordan averaged a league leading 33.6 ppg on 52.6% shooting, to go with 6.9 rpg and 6.3 apg in leading the Bulls to a 55–27 record. They again advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals beating the Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers en route. However, despite pushing the series to seven games, the Bulls lost to the Pistons for the third consecutive season.

In the 1990–91 season, Jordan won his second MVP award after averaging 31.5 ppg on 53.9% shooting, 6.0 rpg, and 5.5 apg for the regular season. The Bulls finished in first place in their division for the first time in 16 years and set a franchise record with 61 wins in the regular season. With Scottie Pippen developing into an All-Star, the Bulls elevated their play. The Bulls defeated the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening two rounds of the playoffs. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where their rival, the Detroit Pistons, awaited them. However, this time when the Pistons employed their "Jordan Rules" defense of doubling and triple teaming Jordan, he picked them apart with passing. Finally, the Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons in a surprising sweep. In an unusual ending to the fourth and final game, Isiah Thomas led his team off the court before the final minute had concluded. Most of the Pistons went directly to their locker room instead of shaking hands with the Bulls.

The Bulls compiled an outstanding 15-2 record during the playoffs, and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they beat the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one. Perhaps the best known moment of the series came in Game 2 when, attempting a dunk, Jordan avoided a potential Sam Perkins block by switching the ball from his right hand to his left in mid-air to lay the shot in. The play was the last in a sequence of 13 consecutive field goals made by Jordan. In his first Finals appearance, Jordan posted per game averages of 31.2 points on 56% shooting from the field, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 1.4 blocks. Jordan won his first NBA Finals MVP award by a unanimous decision, and he cried while holding the NBA Finals trophy.

Jordan and the Bulls continued their dominance in the 1991–92 season, establishing a 67–15 record, topping their franchise record from 1990–91. Jordan won his second consecutive MVP award with a 30.1/6.4/6.1 season on 52% shooting. After winning a physical 7-game series over the burgeoning New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs and finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals in 6 games, the Bulls met Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers in the Finals. The media, hoping to recreate a Magic-Bird rivalry, highlighted the similarities between "Air" Jordan and Clyde "The Glide" during the pre-Finals hype. In the first game, Jordan scored a Finals-record 35 points in the first half, including a record-setting six three-point field goals. After the sixth three-pointer, he jogged down the court shrugging as he looked courtside. Marv Albert, who broadcast the game, later stated that it was as if Jordan was saying, "I can't believe I'm doing this." The Bulls went on to win Game 1, and defeat the Blazers in six games. Jordan was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row and finished the series averaging 35.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 6.5 apg, while shooting 53% from the floor.

In 1992–93, despite a 32.6/6.7/5.5 campaign, Jordan's streak of consecutive MVP seasons ended as he lost the award to his friend Charles Barkley. Fittingly, Jordan and the Bulls met Barkley and his Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. The Bulls captured their third consecutive NBA championship on a game-winning shot by John Paxson and a last-second block by Horace Grant, but Jordan was once again Chicago's catalyst. He averaged a Finals-record 41.0 ppg during the six-game series, and became the first player in NBA history to win three straight Finals MVP awards. He scored more than 30 points in every game of the series, including 40 or more points in 4 consecutive games. With his third Finals triumph, Jordan capped off a seven-year run where he attained seven scoring titles and three championships, but there were signs that Jordan was tiring of his massive celebrity and all of the non-basketball hassles in his life.

On October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the murder of his father earlier in the year shaped his decision. James R. Jordan, Sr. was murdered on July 23, 1993, at a highway rest area in Lumberton, North Carolina, by two teenagers, Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery. The assailants were traced from calls they made on James Jordan's cellular phone, caught, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. Jordan was close to his father; as a child he had imitated his father's proclivity to stick out his tongue while absorbed in work. He later adopted it as his own signature, displaying it each time he drove to the basket. In 1996 he founded a Chicago area Boys & Girls Club and dedicated it to his father.

Those close to Jordan claimed that he had been considering retirement as early as the summer of 1992, and that the added exhaustion due to the Dream Team run in the 1992 Olympics solidified Jordan's feelings about the game and his ever-growing celebrity status. Jordan's announcement sent shock waves throughout the NBA and appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Jordan then further surprised the sports world by signing a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. He reported to spring training and was assigned to the team's minor league system on March 31, 1994. Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always envisioned his son as a major league baseball player. The White Sox were another team owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who continued to honor Jordan's basketball contract during the years he played baseball. He had a brief professional baseball career for the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox farm team, batting .202 with 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB, and 11 errors. He also appeared for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League.

In the 1993–94 season, the Jordan-less Bulls notched a 55–27 record, and lost to the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs. But the 1994–95 version of the Bulls was a shell of the championship squad of just two years earlier. Struggling at mid-season to ensure a spot in the playoffs, Chicago needed a lift. The lift came in early 1995, when Jordan decided to return to the NBA for the Bulls.

On March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: "I'm back." The next day, Jordan donned jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar 23 had been retired in his honor following his first retirement. He took to the court with the Bulls to face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, scoring 19 points. The game had the highest Nielsen rating of a regular season NBA game since 1975.

Although he had not played in an NBA game in a year and a half, Jordan played well upon his return, making a game-winning jump shot against Atlanta in his fourth game back and scoring 55 points in a game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1995. Boosted by Jordan's comeback, the Bulls made the playoffs and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals against the Orlando Magic. At the end of the first game of the series, though, Orlando's Nick Anderson would strip Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic; he would later comment that Jordan "didn't look like the old Michael Jordan", after which Jordan returned to wearing his old number (23). Jordan averaged 31 points per game in that series, but Orlando prevailed in six games.

Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat, Jordan trained aggressively for the 1995–96 season. Strengthened by the addition of rebound specialist Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league, starting the season 41–3, and eventually finishing with the best regular season record in NBA history: 72–10. Jordan led the league in scoring with 30.4 ppg, and won the league's regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards. In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals to win the championship. Jordan was named Finals MVP for a record fourth time, surpassing Magic Johnson's three Finals MVP awards. He also achieved only the second sweep of the MVP Awards in the All-Star Game, regular season and NBA Finals, duplicating Willis Reed's feat during the 1969-70 NBA season. Because this was Jordan's first championship since his father's death, and it was won on Father's Day, Jordan reacted very emotionally upon winning the title, including a memorable scene of him sobbing on the locker room floor with the game ball.

In the 1996–97 season the Bulls started out 69–11, but narrowly missed out on a second consecutive 70-win season by losing their final two games to finish 69–13. However, this year Jordan was beaten for the NBA MVP Award by Karl Malone. The team again advanced to the Finals, where they faced Malone and the Utah Jazz team. The series against the Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch moments of Jordan's career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a buzzer-beating jump shot. In Game 5, with the series tied 2–2, Jordan played despite being feverish and dehydrated from a stomach virus. In what is known as the "flu game", Jordan scored 38 points including the game-deciding three-pointer with less than a minute remaining. The Bulls won 90-88 and went on to win the series in six games. For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Jordan received the Finals MVP award. During the 1997 NBA All-Star Game, Jordan posted the only triple double in All-Star Game history in a victorious effort, however he did not receive the MVP award.

Jordan and the Bulls compiled a 62–20 record in the 1997–98 season. Jordan led the league with 28.7 points per game, securing his fifth regular-season MVP award, plus honors for All-NBA First Team, First Defensive Team and the All-Star Game MVP. The Bulls captured the Eastern Conference Championship for a third straight season, including surviving a grueling seven-game series with Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals; it was the first time Jordan had played in a Game 7 since the 1992 series with the Knicks. After prevailing, they moved on for a rematch with the Jazz in the Finals.

The Bulls returned to Utah for Game 6 on June 14, 1998 leading the series 3–2. Jordan executed a series of plays, considered to be one of the greatest clutch performances in NBA Finals history. With the Bulls trailing 86–83 with 40 seconds remaining, coach Jackson called a timeout. When play resumed, Jordan received the inbound pass, drove to the basket, and hit a layup over several Jazz defenders. The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and passed the ball to forward Karl Malone, who was set up in the low post and was being guarded by Rodman. Malone jostled with Rodman and caught the pass, but Jordan cut behind him and swatted the ball out of his hands for a steal. Jordan then slowly dribbled upcourt and paused at the top of the key, eyeing his defender, Jazz guard Bryon Russell. With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left, possibly pushing off Russell, although the officials did not call a foul. Jordan then released a shot that would be rebroadcast innumerable times in years to come. As the shot found the net, announcer Bob Costas shouted "Chicago with the lead!" After a desperation three-point shot by John Stockton missed, Jordan and the Bulls claimed their sixth NBA championship, and secured a second three-peat. Once again, Jordan was voted the Finals MVP, having led all scorers by averaging 33.5 points per game, including 45 in the deciding Game 6. Jordan's six Finals MVPs is a record; Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson, and Tim Duncan are tied for second place with three apiece. The 1998 Finals holds the highest television rating of any Finals series in history, and Game 6 holds the highest television rating of any game in NBA history.

With Phil Jackson's contract expiring, the pending departures of Scottie Pippen (who stated his desire to be traded during the season) and Dennis Rodman (who would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent) looming, and being in the latter stages of an owner-induced lockout of NBA players, Jordan retired for the second time on January 13, 1999.

On January 19, 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA not as a player, but as part owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. His responsibilities with the club were to be comprehensive, as he was in charge of all aspects of the team, including personnel decisions. Opinions of Jordan as a basketball executive were mixed. He managed to purge the team of several highly paid, unpopular players (such as forward Juwan Howard and point guard Rod Strickland), but used the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft to select high schooler Kwame Brown, who did not live up to expectations and was traded away after four seasons.

Despite his January 1999 claim that he was "99.9% certain" that he would never play another NBA game, in the summer of 2001 Jordan expressed interest in making another comeback, this time with his new team. Inspired by the NHL comeback of his friend Mario Lemieux the previous winter, Jordan spent much of the spring and summer of 2001 in training, holding several invitation-only camps for NBA players in Chicago. In addition, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins, as Washington's coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing another Jordan return.

On September 25, 2001 Jordan announced his return to professional play with the Wizards, indicating his intention to donate his salary as a player to a relief effort for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In an injury-plagued 2001–02 season, he led the team in scoring (22.90 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), and steals (1.42 spg). However, torn cartilage in his right knee ended Jordan's season after only 60 games, the fewest he had played in a regular season since a broken foot cut short his season in 1985–86.

Playing in his 14th and final NBA All-Star Game in 2003, Jordan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in All-Star game history. That year, Jordan was the only Washington player to play in all 82 games, starting in 67 of them. He averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He also shot 45% from the field, and 82% from the free throw line. Even though he turned 40 during the season, he scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times. On February 21, 2003, Jordan became the first 40-year-old to tally 43 points in an NBA game. During his stint with the Wizards, all of Jordan's home games at the MCI Center were sold out, and the Wizards were the second most-watched team in the NBA, averaging 20,172 fans a game at home and 19,311 on the road. However, neither of Jordan's final two seasons resulted in a playoff appearance for the Wizards, and Jordan was often unsatisfied with the play of those around him. At several points he openly criticized his teammates to the media, citing their lack of focus and intensity, notably that of number one draft pick Kwame Brown.

With the recognition that 2002–03 would be Jordan's final season, tributes were paid to him throughout the NBA. In his final game at his old home court, the United Center in Chicago, Jordan received a four-minute standing ovation. The Miami Heat retired the number 23 jersey on April 11, 2003, even though Jordan had never played for the team. At the 2003 All-Star Game, Jordan was offered a starting spot from Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, but refused both; in the end, however, he accepted the spot of Vince Carter, who decided to give it up under a great public pressure.

Jordan's final NBA game was on April 16, 2003 in Philadelphia. After scoring only 13 points in the game, Jordan went to the bench with 4 minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter and with his team trailing the Philadelphia 76ers, 75-56. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, the First Union Center crowd began chanting "We want Mike!". After much encouragement from coach Doug Collins, Jordan finally rose from the bench and re-entered the game for Larry Hughes with 2:35 remaining. At 1:45, Jordan was intentionally fouled by the 76ers' Eric Snow, and stepped to the line to make both free throws. After the second foul shot, the 76ers in-bounded the ball to rookie John Salmons, who in turn was intentionally fouled by Bobby Simmons one second later, stopping time so that Jordan could return to the bench. Jordan received a three-minute standing ovation from his teammates, his opponents, and a crowd of 21,257 fans.

Jordan played on two Olympic gold medal-winning American basketball teams. As a college player he participated, and won the gold, in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Jordan led the team in scoring averaging 17.1 ppg for the tournament. In the 1992 Summer Olympics he was a member of the star-studded squad that included Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and David Robinson and was dubbed the "Dream Team". Playing limited minutes due to the frequent blowouts, Jordan averaged 12.7 ppg, finishing fourth on the team in scoring. The team cruised to the gold medal, restoring the United States to the top of the basketball world. Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and fellow Dream Team member Chris Mullin are the only American men's basketball players to win Olympic gold as amateurs (all in 1984) and professionals.

After his third retirement, Jordan assumed that he would be able to return to his front office position of Director of Basketball Operations with the Wizards. However, his previous tenure in the Wizards' front office had produced the aforementioned mixed results and may have also influenced the trade of Richard "Rip" Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse (although Jordan was not technically Director of Basketball Operations in 2002). On May 7, 2003, Wizards owner Abe Pollin fired Jordan as Washington's President of Basketball Operations. Jordan later stated that he felt betrayed, and that if he knew he would be fired upon retiring he never would have come back to play for the Wizards.

Jordan kept busy over the next few years by staying in shape, playing golf in celebrity charity tournaments, spending time with his family in Chicago, promoting his Jordan Brand clothing line, and riding motorcycles. Since 2004, Jordan has owned a professional closed-course motorcycle roadracing team that competes in the premier Superbike class sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). Jordan and his then-wife Juanita pledged $5 million to Chicago's Hales Franciscan High School in 2006, and the Jordan Brand has made donations to Habitat for Humanity and a Louisiana branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. On June 15, 2006, Jordan became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and was named "Managing Member of Basketball Operations." He has the largest individual holding in the team after majority owner Robert L. Johnson. Despite Jordan's previous success as an endorser, he has made an effort not to be included in Charlotte's marketing campaigns.

Jordan was a shooting guard who was also capable of playing small forward (the position he would primarily play during his second comeback with the Washington Wizards). Jordan was known throughout his career for being a strong clutch performer. He decided numerous games with last-second plays (e.g., The Shot) and performed at a high level even under adverse circumstances (e.g., Flu Game). His competitiveness was visible in his prolific trash-talk and well-known work ethic.

Jordan had a versatile offensive game. He was capable of aggressively driving to the basket and drawing fouls from his opponents at a high rate; his 8,772 free throw attempts are the ninth highest total of all time. As his career progressed, Jordan also developed the ability to post up his opponents and score with his trademark fadeaway jumpshot, using his leaping ability to "fade away" from block attempts. According to Hubie Brown, this move alone made him nearly unstoppable. Despite media criticism as a "selfish" player early in his career, Jordan's 5.3 assists per game also indicate his willingness to defer to his teammates. In later years, the NBA shortened its three-point line to 22 feet (from 23 feet, 9 inches), which coupled with Jordan's extended shooting range to make him a long-range threat as well -- his 3-point stroke developed from a low 9 / 52 rate (.173) in his rookie year into a stellar 111 / 260 (.427) shooter in the 1995–96 season. For a guard, Jordan was also a good rebounder (6.2 per game).

In 1988, he was honored with the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award and became the first NBA player to win both the Defensive Player of the Year and MVP awards in a career (since equaled by Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kevin Garnett; Olajuwon is the only player other than Jordan to win both during the same season). In addition he set records for blocked shots by a guard, and combined this with his ball-thieving ability to become a standout defensive player. His 2,514 steals are the second highest total of all-time behind John Stockton, while his steals per game average is third all-time. Jerry West often stated that he was more impressed with Jordan's defensive contributions than his offensive ones.

Jordan led the NBA in scoring in 10 seasons (NBA record) and tied Wilt Chamberlain's record of seven consecutive scoring titles. He was also a fixture on the NBA All-Defensive First Team, making the roster nine times (NBA record). Jordan also holds the top career and playoff scoring averages of 30.1 and 33.4 points per game, respectively. By 1998, the season of his Finals-winning shot against the Jazz, he was well known throughout the league as a clutch performer. In the regular season, Jordan was the Bulls' primary threat in the final seconds of a close game and in the playoffs, Jordan would always demand the ball at crunch time. Jordan's total of 5,987 points in the playoffs is the highest in NBA history. He retired with 32,292 points, placing him third on the NBA's all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.

With five regular-season MVPs (tied for second place with Bill Russell; only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won more, six), six Finals MVPs (NBA record), and three All-Star MVPs, Jordan is the most decorated player ever to play in the NBA. Jordan finished among the top three in regular-season MVP voting a record 10 times, and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

Many of Jordan's contemporaries label Jordan as the greatest basketball player of all time. An ESPN survey of journalists, athletes and other sports figures ranked Jordan the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century, above icons such as Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. Jordan placed second to Babe Ruth in the Associated Press's list of 20th century athletes. In addition, the Associated Press voted him as the basketball player of the 20th century. Jordan has also appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated a record 49 times. In the September 1996 issue of Sport, which was the publication's 50th anniversary issue, Jordan was named the greatest athlete of the past 50 years.

Jordan's athletic leaping ability, highlighted in his back-to-back slam dunk contest championships in 1987 and 1988, is credited by many with having influenced a generation of young players. Several current NBA All-Stars have stated that they considered Jordan their role model while growing up, including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. In addition, commentators have dubbed a number of next-generation players "the next Michael Jordan" upon their entry to the NBA, including Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, Grant Hill, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter, and Dwyane Wade. Although Jordan was a well-rounded player, his "Air Jordan" image is also often credited with inadvertently decreasing the jump shooting skills, defense, and fundamentals of young players, a fact which Jordan himself has lamented.

Although Jordan has done much to increase the status of the game, some of his impact on the game's popularity in America appears to be fleeting. Television ratings in particular increased only during his time in the league and have subsequently lowered each time he left the game.

Jordan is the fourth of five children. He has two older brothers, Larry Jordan and James R. Jordan, Jr., one older sister, Deloris, and a younger sister, Roslyn. Jordan's brother James retired in 2006 as the Command Sergeant Major of the 35th Signal Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the U.S. Army.

He married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989, and they have two sons, Jeffrey Michael and Marcus James, and a daughter, Jasmine. Jordan and Juanita filed for divorce on January 4, 2002, citing irreconcilable differences, but reconciled shortly thereafter. They again filed for divorce and were granted a final decree of dissolution of marriage on December 29, 2006, commenting that the decision was made "mutually and amicably".

It is reported that Juanita received a $168 million settlement, making it the largest celebrity divorce settlement in history on public record.

On July 21, 2006, a Cook County, Illinois judge determined that Jordan did not owe a former lover, Karla Knafel, $5 million. Jordan had allegedly paid Knafel $250,000 to keep their relationship a secret. Knafel claimed Jordan promised her that amount for remaining silent and agreeing not to file a paternity suit after Knafel learned she was pregnant in 1991. A DNA test showed Jordan was not the father of the child.

As of 2007, Jordan lives in Highland Park, Illinois, and both of his sons attended Loyola Academy, a private Roman Catholic high school located in Wilmette, Illinois. Jeffrey graduated as a member of the 2007 graduating class and played his first collegiate basketball game on November 11, 2007, for the University of Illinois. Marcus transferred to Whitney Young High School after his sophomore year and is set to graduate in 2009.

Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald's, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCI. Jordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in over 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the "Like Mike" commercials in which a song was sung by children wishing to be like Jordan.

Nike created a signature shoe for him, called the Air Jordan. One of Jordan's more popular commercials for the shoe involved Spike Lee playing the part of Mars Blackmon. In the commercials Lee, as Blackmon, attempted to find the source of Jordan's abilities and became convinced that "it's gotta be the shoes". The hype and demand for the shoes even brought on a spate of "shoe-jackings" where people were robbed of their sneakers at gunpoint. Subsequently Nike spun off the Jordan line into its own division named the "Jordan Brand". The company features an impressive list of athletes and celebrities as endorsers. The brand has also sponsored college sports programs such as those of North Carolina, Cincinnati, Cal, St. John's, Georgetown, and North Carolina A&T.

Jordan also has been connected with the Looney Tunes cartoon characters. A Nike commercial shown during the 1993 Super Bowl XXVII featured Jordan and Bugs Bunny playing basketball against a group of Martian characters. The Super Bowl commercial inspired the 1996 live action/animated movie Space Jam, which starred Jordan and Bugs in a fictional story set during his first retirement. They have subsequently appeared together in several commercials for MCI.

Jordan's year income from the endorsements is estimated to be over forty million dollars. In addition, when Jordan's power at the ticket gates was at its highest point the Bulls regularly sold out every game they played in, whether home or away. Due to this, Jordan set records in player salary by signing annual contracts worth in excess of $30 million US dollars per season.

An academic study found that Jordan’s first NBA comeback resulted in an increase in the market capitalization of his client firms of more than $1 billion.

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Vince Carter

Vincent Lamar Carter (born on January 26, 1977), known as Vince Carter, is an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is currently a shooting guard for the New Jersey Nets.

Carter, born in Daytona Beach, Florida, was a McDonald's All-American basketball player in 1995, out of Mainland High School in Daytona Beach. After high school, Carter spent three seasons playing basketball at the University of North Carolina, before entering the 1998 NBA Draft. Carter enjoyed tremendous popularity during his initial years in the NBA, especially after showcasing his athletic abilities in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, in which he competed alongside his third cousin and then teammate Tracy McGrady. He took the newly franchised Toronto Raptors to new heights, as he helped lead the team to three consecutive playoff berths. In 2004, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets, whom he currently plays for. Until 2006 Carter had perennially topped All-Star team voting.

In 1995, Carter began playing college basketball at North Carolina under Dean Smith and later, Bill Guthridge. During the 1997-1998 season, he was a member of new coach Bill Guthridge's successful "Six Starters" rotation with Antawn Jamison, Shammond Williams, Ed Cota, Ademola Okulaja and Makhtar N'Diaye. That season (his final college season), he averaged 15.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to go along with career averages of 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Carter also became a pioneer of the internet during his collegiate career. In 1995, Carter became the second collegiate athlete, after teammate Shammond Williams, to have a website dedicated to him.

In 1998, Carter was drafted by the NBA's Golden State Warriors with the fifth overall pick, and then traded to the Toronto Raptors for Antawn Jamison, his college teammate and good friend. Carter's rookie season was the shortened 50-game 1999 season after the NBA locked out its players in 1998–99. Carter started almost every game for coach Butch Carter and eventually won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. The next year, Carter was selected to an All-Star Team for the first time, averaged 25.7 ppg, made the Third Team All-NBA, and showcased his athleticism and dunking abilities in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He won the contest by performing an array of dunks including a 360° windmill, a between the legs bounce dunk, and an "elbow in the rim" dunk (also known as a "cookie jar" dunk or the "honey dip")." Though he never competed in the dunk contest again for safety purposes, Carter was voted into the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star Team starting lineup several times through fan balloting.

In Carter's first two seasons, he and his distant cousin Tracy McGrady formed a formidable one-two punch as Raptor teammates. The two led the Raptors to their first playoff berth in the 2000 NBA Playoffs, but they were swept by the New York Knicks in 3 games. Upon McGrady's departure to the Orlando Magic the following season, Carter became the Raptors' franchise player.

In 2000-01, his third season, Carter averaged a career-high 27.6 ppg, made the Second Team All-NBA, and was voted in as a starter in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, while the Raptors finished the regular season with a franchise-record 47 wins. In the playoffs, the Raptors beat the New York Knicks in the first round and advanced to the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they took the Philadelphia 76ers to a decisive seventh game.

On the morning of the day of the Game 7, May 20, 2001, Carter attended his University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduation. In that game, Carter missed a game-winning shot with 2.0 seconds remaining. and shot just 6 of 18 from the field.

In the summer of 2001, Carter signed a $94-million, six-year extension with the Raptors. In addition, Carter announced that he would be hosting a charity basketball game featuring fellow NBA stars that would be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on August 3, 2001. The success of the first game encouraged Carter to make the game an annual summer event.

The next season was an injury-riddled one for Carter. He started in 60 games and he averaged 24.7 points per game. He was voted in the 2002 NBA All-Star Game but he couldn't participate due to injury. The Raptors did not fare well without their All-Star player. The team lost 17 of 18 games to drop to 30-38, then won 12 of their last 14 to finish at 42-40. Carter was injured during the 2002 Playoffs and his team was beat by the Pistons.

During the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, under great public pressure, Carter gave up his starting All-Star spot to the Washington Wizards' Michael Jordan to allow Jordan to make his final start as an All-Star.

During his Raptors tenure, Carter developed jumper's knee in his left knee. During the 2004 off-season, Carter became frustrated with the Raptors' management team as he was promised input by President Richard Peddie on the hiring of the next general manager. The Raptors failed to do so - Carter recommended Julius Erving, who arrived at Pearson Airport and never set foot at the Air Canada Centre for a legitimate meeting. On November 22, 2004, when pressed by the local media about his lack of dunks, Carter sarcastically responded, "I don't want to dunk anymore." During his 2004-2005 season, Carter posted a 15.9-point scoring average on reduced playing time before his eventual trade.

In late December 2004, there were allegations that Carter tipped off the opposing Seattle SuperSonics (the Raptors' opponents on November 19, 2004) of an upcoming Raptors play by yelling "It's a flare! It's a flare!". However, no further actions were taken and the accusations were found to be baseless. Sources report that Reggie Evans was the Sonics player who was the source for the story and he later back tracked on his accusation saying he didn’t hear anything from Carter about tipping plays in order to sabotage the Raptors. Ray Allen was the player guarding Carter on the inbounds pass standing right next to him, and he said he didn’t hear anything from Carter about sabotaging plays either.

Carter made it clear in the 2004 off-season that he wanted to be traded from the Raptors. On December 17, 2004, Raptors General Manager Rob Babcock traded Carter to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two future first-round draft picks. The trade to the Nets, combined with Carter's continually declining popularity with Raptors fans, also put an end to his charity basketball games in Toronto, with the last one being played in the summer of that year.

In early January 2005, he stated during a television interview with TNT's John Thompson to not giving effort in his last months as a Raptor; when asked if he always played hard, Carter replied, "In years past, no. I was fortunate to have the talent. You get spoiled when you're able to do a lot of things. You see that you don't have to work at it." Though Carter's comments were perceived by Raptors fans as his confession to not giving his all as a Raptor, Thompson said the comments were misinterpreted, saying, "That boy never said to me, 'Coach, I just laid down and quit.' ...I was embarrassed and felt awful about it for his sake, because I knew what he was communicating to me. I think he was more expressing a desire of wanting to do better, as we all do." Despite Thompson's defense, publications including Sports Illustrated, the Toronto Star and ESPN.com have included pieces condemning Carter for offering a lacklustre effort in his last season as a Raptor. The Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk wrote that Carter "cheated on (the Raptors). He quit on the floor.", and Carter has been booed by Raptors fans each time he has returned to play Toronto as a New Jersey net.

Carter guided the Nets to an eighth seed in the 2005 NBA Playoffs. Although New Jersey was swept in the first round by the Miami Heat, Carter finished the series with averages of 26.8 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists; highlighted by a buzzer-beating two-point fadeaway shot in the first overtime of Game 3 that forced a second overtime.

Carter returned to Toronto on January 8, 2006 for the third time since his trade to the New Jersey Nets, and was given the same treatment by the fans that he received the first time he played against the Raptors in the Air Canada Centre. With the Nets trailing 102–104, Carter hit the winning three-point shot with 0.1 seconds left on the game clock and finished with 42 points and 10 rebounds. Carter considers this winning shot as his greatest ever, considering the atmosphere, the emotion and the hostility in the arena.

In the 2005-06 NBA season, he co-led the Nets to 49 wins, an Atlantic Division title, and the number three seed in the playoffs, while averaging 24.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. He led the Nets to the second round of the playoffs before losing to the eventual NBA champions Miami Heat in five games. Carter averaged 29.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 11 playoff games.

On February 1, 2007, Carter was named, along with teammate Jason Kidd, as a reserve to the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, after losing out on a starting spot to Gilbert Arenas by 3,010 votes. Both Carter and Kidd made their eighth All-Star game appearance.

In a 120–114 overtime win over the Washington Wizards, April 7, 2007, Carter and Jason Kidd became the first teammates in over 18 years to record triple-doubles in the same game since the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen achieved this feat against the Los Angeles Clippers in 1989. Carter finished with 46 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kidd finished with 10 points, tied a career-high with 16 rebounds, and tied a season-high with 18 assists. Carter's triple double is the second highest total for a triple double, second only to Alvin Adams of the Phoenix Suns who tallied 47 points and 18 rebounds over 30 years ago.

After the Nets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers (lost series 4-2), rumors of the Nets trading Carter again arose. After the New York Knicks and Nets discussed a trade around February of Carter (which was ended with the trading deadline), the two teams again revisited the subject. Carter, who opted out of his contract on June 30, reportedly wanted a three-year, $60 million deal however, which the Knicks are wary of. On July 1, 2007 Carter signed a 4-year $61.8 million contract with the Nets.

On January 24, 2008, the Nets played on the road against the Golden State Warriors. The game was broadcast on TNT, and at the half-time show, Magic Johnson claimed that Carter's game was on the decline due to chronic injuries to his knees. This was proven to be unfounded as Carter had hurt his ankle in an October game against the Boston Celtics which would hinder him throughout the 2007-2008 season. Hampered by injuries, Carter was not named as one of the reserves for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. This marked the first time in his NBA career Carter was not named as an All-Star since his rookie season. Despite playing with an ankle injury, Carter finished the season strong with averages of 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists after the All-Star break. He was one of only three NBA players, along with Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, to average at least 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists for the year, with averages of 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He led the Nets in freethrow percentage, assists and steals per game (81.6%, 5.1, 1.2). Rod Thorn credited Carter for becoming a leader since the All-Star break, and said he believed that Carter could lead the Nets back to the playoffs the following year. Carter's injury was confirmed after undergoing a successful arthroscopic ankle surgery in the off-season.

For the 2008-09 season, Carter was voted team captain, a title that had been given to Jason Kidd for the previous 6 years. On November 21 2008, in a return to Air Canada Centre to play the Toronto Raptors, Carter scored 39 points in an overtime 129-127 win. After making a three to send the game into overtime, he scored the winning basket, a reverse dunk off an inbounds pass from Bobby Simmons, with 2.1 seconds left.

During the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Carter performed a memorable dunk when he flew over 7-foot-2 (2.18 m) French center Frédéric Weis. Carter stole the ball, sprinted, took off - legs spread in midair, and hit Weis's head as he bent over to avoid the collision, before slamming the ball. Teammate Jason Kidd said it was "One of the best plays I've ever seen." The French media later dubbed it "le dunk de la mort" ("the Dunk of Death"). The U.S. team went on to win the gold medal that year.

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Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets logo

The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston, Texas. They play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before being moved to Houston, Texas. After occupying the Compaq Center for 30 years, the Rocket currently play in the Toyota Center.

The Rockets first made the playoffs in 1969, and the conference finals in 1977, but lost twice in the NBA Finals, in 1981 and 1985, to the Boston Celtics. They did not win their first championship until they drafted future Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who led them to consecutive championships in 1994 and 1995. However, the Rockets have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs in 13 years.

The Rockets were founded in 1967 in San Diego, and after being bought by Robert Breitbard for 1.75 million dollars, they joined the NBA as an expansion team for the 1967-68 NBA season. The San Diego franchise, which was named the Rockets due to the city calling itself "a city of motion", played its games in the San Diego Sports Arena. Jack McMahon was named the Rockets' coach, and the team's first draft pick, in 1967, was the future Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. However, the Rockets went on to lose 67 games in their inaugural season, which was then an NBA record for losses in a season.

In 1968, after the Rockets won a coin toss against the Baltimore Bullets to determine who would have the first overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, they selected Elvin Hayes from the University of Houston. Hayes led the team to the franchise's first ever playoff appearance in 1969, but the Rockets lost in the semi-finals of the Western Division to the Atlanta Hawks, four games to two. In 1970 NBA Draft, the Rockets drafted Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich, who would together play all their careers, a total of 25 seasons, with the Rockets.

Despite being coached by Hall-of-Fame coach Alex Hannum, the Rockets only tallied a 57-97 record in the following two seasons, and did not make the playoffs in either season. Because of the low performance and attendance, Breitbard looked to sell the team, and in 1971, Texas Sports Investments, which was led by real estate broker Wayne Duddleston and banker Billy Goldberg, bought the franchise for $5.6 million, and moved the team to Houston. The franchise became the first NBA team in Texas, and the team's nickname of "Rockets" took on even greater relevance after the move.

Because the Rockets did not have their own arena in Houston, they were playing their first two years at various venues in Houston, including the Astrodome, AstroHall, and Hofheinz Pavilion. They also had to play "home" game in other cities such as San Antonio, Waco, Albuquerque, and even San Diego. During their first season, the Rockets averaged less than 5,000 fans per game, and in one game in Waco, there were only 759 fans in attendance.

Before the start of the 1971-72 NBA season, Hannum left for the Denver Nuggets of the American Basketball Association, and Tex Winter was hired in his place. However, Winter, who said that Hayes had "the worst fundamentals of any player" he had ever coached, applied a system that contrasted with the offensive style to which Hayes was accustomed. Because of the differences between Winter and Hayes, Houston traded Hayes, who had led the Rockets in scoring for four straight years, to the Baltimore Bullets for Jack Marin at the end of the 1971-72 season. Winter left soon after, in the spring of 1973, following the Rockets 10th straight loss, and he was replaced by Johnny Egan.

At the beginning of the 1975-76 NBA season, the Rockets moved into their new arena, The Summit, where they won their first game 104-89 over the Milwaukee Bucks. Under Egan's guidance, and as Tomjanovich, Murphy, and Mike Newlin led the way, the Rockets continued on to finish over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and they made their first appearance in the playoffs since arriving in Houston. The Rockets defeated the New York Knicks, who were led by Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe in a three-game mini-series in the first round, but lost to the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

At the start of the 1976–77 season, the Rockets negotiated a trade with the Buffalo Braves to acquire Moses Malone, who had previously become the first player to go straight from the high school to the professional level. After Malone led the Rockets in rebounding for the first of six straight times, and established a then-NBA record for offensive rebounds in a season, the Rockets posted a franchise-best 49 wins and finished on top of the Central Division. In the playoffs, Houston defeated the Washington Bullets in six games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and advanced to the conference finals for the first time in their history, but they lost to the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers 4-2.

Early into 1977-78 season, at a game on December 9, 1977, Kevin Kunnert got into a fight with Kermit Washington of the Los Angeles Lakers. As Tomjanovich approached the altercation, Washington turned and threw a punch that landed squarely in the face of an approaching Tomjanovich, causing numerous fractures in his face. Tomjanovich spent the next five months in rehabilitation and returned to appear in the 1978 All-Star Game, but his averages significantly declined after the injury, and Houston finished with just 28 wins in the season.

In the following season, Malone, Murphy, and Tomjanovich all played in the 1979 NBA All-Star Game, and Malone received the 1979 MVP Award. The Rockets also sent Lucas to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Rick Barry, who went on to set the NBA record at the time for free throw percentage in a season by shooting 94.7%. The Rockets went 47-35 in Nissalke's last season as coach, and finished second in the Central Division, but they lost to Atlanta in a best-of-three first-round series. In Houston's 1979-80 campaign, Del Harris replaced Nissalke as head coach, and he led the Rockets to a 41-41 record, tying the San Antonio Spurs for second place in the Central Division. The Rockets defeated the Spurs two games to one in their first-round playoff series, they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

In the 1980-81 season, after the newly-established Dallas Mavericks became the third NBA team in Texas, the NBA restructured the conferences and sent the Rockets, who had previously played in the Eastern Conference, to the Midwest Division of the Western Conference. In Harris's second season, Houston tied with Kansas City for second place in the Midwest Division behind San Antonio with a 40-42 record, and qualified for the playoffs with just one game left. During the season, Murphy set two NBA records, by sinking 78 consecutive free throws to break Rick Barry's mark of 60 set in 1976, and achieving a free-throw percentage of .958, breaking Barry's record set with the Rockets in 1979.

In the playoffs, Houston began a run that began when they upset Los Angeles two games to one, and then defeated George Gervin's Spurs four games to three in the Western Conference semifinals. This resulted in a conference finals matchup with the Kansas City Kings, who were led by Otis Birdsong, Scott Wedman, and Phil Ford. When the Kings fell to the Rockets in five games, the Rockets became the only team in NBA history to advanced to the Finals after having a losing record in the regular season. However, after splitting the first four games of the series with Boston, Houston eventually lost in six games..

The following season, the Rockets improved their regular season mark to 46-36 but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Although Malone won the league's Most Valuable Player award in that season, in the following offseason, the Rockets traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Caldwell Jones, to avoid paying his salary. When the Rockets finished a league worst 14-68, Celtics coach Bill Fitch was hired to replace outgoing Del Harris, and after winning a coin flip with the Indiana Pacers to obtain the first pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, the Rockets selected Ralph Sampson from the University of Virginia.

Although the Rockets finished only 29-53 in the 1983-1984 season, Ralph Sampson was awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year award, after averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. Houston was again given the first pick of the 1984 NBA Draft, and they used it to select Hakeem Olajuwon from the University of Houston. In his first season, Olajuwon finished second to Michael Jordan in NBA Rookie of the Year balloting, and the Rockets record improved by 19 games, although they were eliminated in the fist round of the playoffs. In the following season, both Olajuwon and Sampson were named to the Western Conference All-Stars in that year's all-star game, and the duo was nicknamed the "Twin Towers". In the playoffs, the Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals in five games, after Sampson hit a buzzer beater to win Game 5, which Sampson said was "greatest moment of my basketball career". The Rockets competed in the finals for only the second time in team history, but the Celtics once again defeated the Rockets in the finals in six games. In the next year, the Rockets again made the playoffs, and advanced to the second round, before being eliminated by the Seattle SuperSonics. However, in the next three seasons, the Rockets were eliminated three straight times in the first round of the playoffs, despite Don Chaney replacing Fitch as head coach in 1988.

Chaney was named the Coach of the Year for the 1990-91 season, but the Rockets were once again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, 3-0 to the Lakers. Midway through the next season, with the Rockets' record only 26-26, Chaney was replaced by former Houston player Tomjanovich. Although the Rockets did not make the playoffs, in the next year, the Rockets won-loss record improved by 13 games, as they won 55 games. However, the Seattle SuperSonics knocked them off in the conference semifinals.

On July 30, 1993, Leslie Alexander purchased the Rockets for $85 million. In Tomjanovich's second full year as head coach, the Rockets began the 1993–94 season by tying an NBA record with start of 15–0. Led by Olajuwon, who was named the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, the Rockets won a franchise-record 58 games. The Rockets recovered from being two games down to the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the playoffs, to advance to the finals. Houston once again went down by three games to two to the New York Knicks, but they managed to win the last two games on their home court, and claim their first championship in franchise history. Olajuwon was awarded the Finals MVP, after averaging 27 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots a game.

The Rockets intially struggled in the first half of the 1994–95 season, and ended up winning only 47 games, which was 11 games lower than their previous year's total. In a midseason trade with Portland, the Rockets obtained guard Clyde Drexler, a former teammate of Olajuwon at the University of Houston, in exchange for Otis Thorpe. Houston entered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference, but managed to defeat the 60–22 Utah Jazz in the first round. They fell behind 3-1 to the 59-23 Phoenix Suns in the second round, but won three straight to win the series, and became only the first team in NBA history to overcome a both a 2-0 and 3-1 series deficit in a seven-game series. The Rocket then beat the 62-20 San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals, to reach the Finals against the Orlando Magic, led by Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. When Houston swept the series in four straight games, they became the first team in NBA history to win the championship as a sixth seed, and the first to beat four 50-win teams in a single postseason en route to the championship. Olajuwon, who had averaged 35.3 points and 12.5 rebounds against the Spurs and regular-season MVP David Robinson in the conference finals, was named the Finals MVP, becoming only the second player after Michael Jordan to win the award two years in a row.

The Rockets won 48 games in the 1995-96 campaign, in which Olajuwon became the NBA's all-time leader in blocked shots. They beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, but were swept by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round. Before the start of the succeeding season, the Rockets made a dramatic trade that sent four players to Phoenix for Charles Barkley. The resulting "Big Three" of Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley led the Rockets to a 57-25 record, and Houston swept Minnesota in the first round. However, after a 7-game battle with Seattle, the Rockets fell in the Western Conference finals to the Utah Jazz, a team they had beaten on their way to championships in 1994 and 1995.

The 1997-98 season was marked by injuries, and the team finished 41-41 with the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Houston once again faced the Jazz, this time in the first round, and they lost the series 3-2. Drexler retired after the season, and the Rockets made another bold trade to bring in Scottie Pippen to take his place. In the strike-shortened 1998–99 season, the Rocket went 31-19, but lost to the Lakers in the first round 3-1 of the playoffs. After the 1999 draft, the Rockets traded for the third overall pick Steve Francis from the Vancouver Grizzlies, in exchange for four players and a first-round draft pick. However, after Houston traded a discontented Pippen to Portland, and Barkley suffered a career-ending injury, the rebuilt Rockets went 34–48 and missed the playoffs, for only the second time in 15 years.

In the 2000-2001 season, the Rockets worked their way to a 45–37 record, but still did not make the playoffs. In the following offseason, a 38-year old Olajuwon requested a trade, and, despite stating their desire to keep him, the Rockets reached a sign-and-trade agreement, sending him to the Toronto Raptors. The proceeding season was unremarkable, as Houston's first season without Hakeem in almost 20 years was a disappointing 28–54. However, after Houston was awarded the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, they selected Yao Ming, a 7 foot 6 inch Chinese center. The Rockets' record improved by 15 games, but they missed the playoffs by one game.

In the following season, began playing in their new arena the Toyota Center, and redesigned their uniforms and logo, as long-time coach Tomjanovich resigned after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, and was replaced by Jeff Van Gundy. The Rockets finished the regular season record of 45-37, and earned their first playoff berth since 1999, but the Lakers again handed the Rockets a loss in the first round. In the offseason, Houston saw major changes in the roster as the Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady in a seven-player deal with the Orlando Magic. The 2004-05 season saw McGrady and Yao lead the Rockets to their best record in 10 years, finishing at 51-31 and seeded 5th in the Western Conference Playoffs. However, their season ended in the first round of the playoffs as they lost to their in-state rival, the Dallas Mavericks in seven games, despite leading the series 2–0.

The following season, after an injury-plagued year, in which McGrady and Yao missed a total of 70 games, the team finished with only 34 wins, and missed the playoffs. The Rockets improved by 18 games the next year, with 52 wins, but once again lost in the first round after leading 2–0, when they lost in seven games to Utah. After the loss, Van Gundy was fired, and the Rockets hired Rick Adelman to replace him. In the following year, despite Yao suffering a season-ending injury for the third year in a row, the Rockets won 22 consecutive games, which is the 2nd longest winning streak in NBA history. Houston finished their season 55–27, but were eliminated for the second year in row by the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, 4 games to 2.

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Yao Ming

Yao Ming (Chinese: 姚明; pinyin: Yáo Míng; born September 12, 1980) is a professional basketball player who plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is currently the tallest player in the NBA, at 2.29 m (7 ft 6 in).

Yao, who was born in Shanghai, People's Republic of China, started playing for the Shanghai Sharks as a teenager, and played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), winning a championship in his final year. He entered the 2002 NBA Draft, and after negotiating with the CBA and the Sharks to secure his release, was selected by the Houston Rockets as the first overall pick of the draft. He has since been selected to start for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game in all seven of his seasons, and has been named to the All-NBA Team four times. However, the Rockets have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since he joined the team, and he has missed significant time due to injury in each of the past three seasons.

His father, Yao Zhiyuan, is 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in); his mother, Fengdi Fang, is 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in) and was captain of the Chinese national women's basketball team. Yao's parents were the tallest couple in China at the time of his birth.

Yao is married to Ye Li, a former player for the China women's national basketball team. He is one of China's best-known athletes, with sponsorships with several major companies, and he has been the richest celebrity in China for five straight years. His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.

Yao first tried out for the Shanghai Sharks junior team of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) when he was 13 years old, and practiced for 10 hours a day to make the team. After playing with the junior team for four years, Yao joined the senior team of the Sharks at age 17, and averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds a game in his rookie season. However, his next season was cut short when he broke his foot for the second time in his career, which Yao said decreased his jumping ability by four to six inches (10 to 15 cm). The Sharks made the finals of the CBA in Yao’s third season and again the next year, but lost both times to the Bayi Rockets. When Wang Zhizhi left the Bayi Rockets to become the first NBA player from China the following year, the Sharks finally won their first CBA championship. During the playoffs in his final year with Shanghai, Yao averaged 38.9 points and 20.2 rebounds a game, while shooting 76.6% from the field, and made all 21 of his shots during one game in the finals.

Yao was pressured to enter the NBA Draft in 1999 by Li Yaomin, the deputy general manager of the Shanghai Sharks. Li also influenced Yao to sign a contract for Evergreen Sports Inc. to serve as his agent. The agreement entitled Evergreen to 33% of Yao's earnings, but the contract was later determined to be invalid.

When Yao decided to enter the 2002 NBA Draft, a team of advisers was formed that would collectively come to be known as “Team Yao”. The team consisted of Yao’s negotiator, Erik Zhang; his NBA agent, Bill Duffy; his Chinese agent, Lu Hao; University of Chicago economics professor John Huizinga; and the vice president for marketing at BDA Sports Management, Bill Sanders. Yao was widely predicted to be picked number one overall. However, some teams were concerned about Yao's NBA eligibility due to uncertainty over whether the CBA would let Yao play in the United States.

Shortly after Wang Zhizhi refused to return to China to play for the national team and was subsequently banned from playing for China, the CBA stipulated that Yao would have to return to play for the national team. They also said they would not let him go to the United States unless the Houston Rockets would take him first overall. After assurances from Team Yao that the Rockets would draft Yao with their number one pick, the CBA gave permission on the morning of the draft for Yao to play in the U.S. When the Rockets selected Yao with the first pick of the draft, he became the first international player ever to be selected first overall without having previously played U.S. college basketball.

Yao did not participate in the Rockets' pre-season training camp, instead playing for China in the 2002 FIBA World Championships. He played his first NBA game against the Indiana Pacers, scoring only one point and grabbing one rebound, and scored his first NBA basket against the Denver Nuggets. Yao averaged only 14 minutes and 4 points in his first seven games, and several respected commentators, including Bill Simmons and Dick Vitale, predicted that Yao would fail in the NBA. Charles Barkley said he would "kiss ass" if Yao scored more than 19 points in one of his rookie-season games. On November 17, Yao scored 20 points on a perfect 9-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line against the Lakers, and Barkley made good on his bet by kissing Smith's donkey (his "ass").

Before Yao’s first meeting with Shaquille O'Neal on January 17, 2003, O'Neal said, "Tell Yao Ming, Ching chong-yang-wah-ah-soh", prompting accusations of racism from the Asian American community. O'Neal denied that his comments were racist, and said he was only joking. Yao also said he believed O'Neal was joking, but the comments led to increased media coverage in the buildup to the nationally televised game. In the game, Yao scored six points and blocked O'Neal twice in the opening minutes, and made a game-sealing dunk with 10 seconds left in overtime. Yao finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds; O'Neal scored 31 points and 13 rebounds.

Yao finished his rookie season averaging 13.5 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game, and was second in the NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting to Amar'e Stoudemire, and a unanimous pick for the NBA All-Rookie First Team selection. He was also voted the Sporting News Rookie of the Year, and won the Laureus Newcomer of the Year award.

Before the start of Yao's sophomore season, Rockets' head coach Rudy Tomjanovich resigned due to health issues, and long-time New York Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy was brought in. After Van Gundy began focusing the offense on Yao, Yao averaged career highs in points and rebounds for the season, and had a career-high 41 points and 7 assists in a triple-overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks in February 2004. He was also voted to be the starting center in the 2004 NBA All-Star Game for the second straight year. Yao finished the season averaging 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game.

The Rockets made the playoffs for the first time in Yao's career, claiming the seventh seed in the Western Conference. In the first round, however, the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated Houston in five games. Yao averaged 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in his first playoff series.

In the summer of 2004, the Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady from the Orlando Magic in a seven-player trade that also sent Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley to Orlando. Although Yao said that Francis and Mobley had "helped in every way first two seasons", he added, "I'm excited about playing with Tracy McGrady. He can do some amazing things." After the trade, it was predicted that the Rockets would be title contenders. Both McGrady and Yao were voted to start in the 2005 NBA All-Star Game, and Yao broke the record previously held by Michael Jordan for most All-Star votes, with 2,558,278 total votes. The Rockets won 51 games and finished fifth in the West, and made the playoffs for the second consecutive year, where they faced the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets won the first two games in Dallas, and Yao made 13 of 14 shots in the second game, the best shooting performance in the playoffs in Rockets history. However the Rockets lost four of their last five games and lost Game 7 by 40 points, the largest Game 7 deficit in NBA history. Yao's final averages for the series were 21.4 points on 65% shooting and 7.7 rebounds.

After missing only two games in his first three years of NBA play, Yao endured an extended period on the inactive list in his fourth season after developing osteomyelitis in the big toe on his left foot, and surgery was performed on the toe on December 18, 2005. Despite missing 21 games while recovering, Yao again had the most fan votes to start the 2006 NBA All-Star Game.

In 25 games after the All-Star break, Yao averaged 25.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.7% from the field and 87.8% at the free throw line. His final averages in 57 games were 22.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. It was the first time that he ended the season with a so-called "20/10" average. However, Tracy McGrady played only 47 games in the season, missing time because of back spasms. Yao and McGrady played only 31 games together, and the Rockets did not make the playoffs, winning only 34 games. With only four games left in the season, Yao suffered another injury in a game against the Utah Jazz on April 10, 2006, which left him with a broken bone in his left foot. The injury required six months of rest.

Early into his fifth season, Yao was injured again, this time breaking his right knee on December 23, 2006 while attempting to block a shot. Up to that point he had been averaging 26.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, and had been mentioned as an NBA MVP candidate. Yao was unable to play in what would have been his fifth All-Star game, but was medically cleared to play on March 4, 2007, after missing 34 games.

Despite Yao's absence, the Rockets made the playoffs with the home court advantage against the Utah Jazz in the first round. The Rockets won the first two games, but then lost four of five games and were eliminated in Game 7 at home, despite Yao's 29 points—15 in the fourth quarter. Although he averaged 25.1 points and 10.3 rebounds for the series, Yao said afterwards “I didn't do my job”. At the end of the season, Yao was selected to the All-NBA Second Team for the first time in his career, after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team twice.

On May 18, 2007, only weeks after the Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs, Jeff Van Gundy was dismissed as head coach. Three days later, former Sacramento Kings coach Rick Adelman was signed to replace Van Gundy. It was predicted the Rockets would focus more on offense under Adelman than they did under Van Gundy's defensive-based system.

On November 9, 2007, Yao played against fellow Chinese NBA player Yi Jianlian for the first time. The game, which the Rockets won 104–88, was broadcast on 19 networks in China, and was watched by over 200 million people in China alone, making it one of the most-watched NBA games in history. In the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, Yao was once again voted to start at center for the Western Conference. Before the All-Star weekend, the Rockets had won eight straight games, and after the break, they took their win streak to 12 games. On February 26, 2008, however, it was reported that Yao would miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. He missed the 2008 NBA Playoffs, but he did not miss the 2008 Summer Olympics at Beijing, China in August. After Yao's injury, the Rockets stretched their winning streak to 22 games, the second-longest in NBA history. Yao underwent a successful operation on March 3, which placed screws in his foot to strengthen the bone, and recovery time was estimated at four months. Yao's final averages in 55 games were 22.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks a game.

Yao first played for China in the Olympics in the 2000 Summer Olympics. During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Yao carried the Chinese flag during the opening ceremony, which he said was a “long dream come true”. He then vowed to abstain from shaving his beard for half a year unless the Chinese national basketball team made it into the quarter-finals of the Olympic Basketball Tournament. After Yao scored 39 points in a win against New Zealand, China lost 58–83, 57–82, and 52–89 against Spain, Argentina and Italy respectively. In the final group game, however, a 67–66 win over reigning world champions Serbia and Montenegro moved them into the quarterfinals. Yao scored 27 points and had 13 rebounds, and he hit two free throws with 28 seconds left that proved to be the winning margin. He was selected to the All-Olympics team with his performance, averaging 20.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9% from the field.

Yao’s injury at the end of the 2005–06 NBA season required a full six months of rest, threatening his participation in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. However, he recovered before the start of the tournament, and in the last game of the preliminary round, he had 36 points and 10 rebounds in a win against Slovenia to lead China into the Round of 16. In the first knockout round, however, China was defeated by eventual finalist Greece. Yao's final averages were 25.3 points, the most in the tournament, and 9.0 rebounds a game, which was fourth overall.

After having surgery to repair his fractured foot, Yao said that if he could not play in the Olympics, "It would be the biggest loss in my career to right now". However, he returned to play with the Chinese national team on July 17, 2008. On August 6, Yao carried the Olympic Flame into Tiananmen Square, as part of the Olympic torch relay. He also carried the Chinese flag and led his country's delegation during the opening ceremony. After China opened with a 101-70 loss to the United States, and an overtime defeat to Spain, Yao scored 30 points in a win over Angola, and 25 points in a three-point win against Germany, which clinched China's place in the quarterfinals. However, China lost to Lithuania in the quarterfinals by 26 points, eliminating them from the tournament. Yao's 19 points a game were the second-highest in the Olympics, and his averages of 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game were third overall.

Yao is married to Ye Li, a women's basketball player for China, whom he met when he was 17. Ye was not fond of Yao at first, but finally accepted him after he gave her the team pins he had collected during the 2000 Summer Olympics. Their relationship was first made public when they appeared together during the 2004 Olympics closing ceremony, and on August 6, 2007, Yao married Ye in a ceremony attended by close friends and family that was closed to the media.

In 2004, Yao co-wrote an autobiography with ESPN sportswriter Ric Bucher, entitled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds. In the same year, he was also the subject of a documentary film, The Year of the Yao, which focuses on his NBA rookie year. The film is narrated by his friend and former interpreter Colin Pine, who stayed with Yao during Yao's rookie year, and interpreted for him for three years. In 2005, former Newsweek writer Brook Larmer published a book entitled Operation Yao Ming, in which he said that Yao's parents were convinced to marry each other so that they would produce a dominant athlete, and that during Yao's childhood, he was given special treatment to help him become a great basketball player.

Yao is one of China's most recognizable athletes, along with Liu Xiang. He has led Forbes' Chinese celebrities list in income and popularity for five straight years, earning 54.6 million U.S. dollars (387.8 million yuan) in 2007. A major part of his income comes from his sponsorship deals, as he is under contract with several major companies to endorse their products. He was signed by Nike until the end of his rookie season; when they decided not to renew his contract, he signed with Reebok. He also had a deal with Pepsi, and he successfully sued Coca-Cola in 2003 when they used his image on their bottles while promoting the national team. However, he has since signed with Coca-Cola for the 2008 Olympics. His other deals include partnerships with Visa, Apple, Garmin, and McDonald’s (his favorite restaurant when he was young).

Yao has also participated in many charity events during his career, including the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. In the NBA's offseason in 2003, Yao hosted a telethon, which raised 300,000 U.S. dollars to help stop the spread of SARS. In September 2007, he held an auction that raised 965,000 U.S. dollars (6.75 million yuan), and competed in a charity basketball match to raise money for underprivileged children in China. He was joined by fellow NBA stars Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, and Baron Davis, and movie star Jackie Chan. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Yao donated $2 million to relief work, and created a foundation to help rebuild schools destroyed in the earthquake.

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Source : Wikipedia