Best Rocket (2006)

Yao Ming

As fans are painfully aware, the 2005-2006 Houston Rockets season went from hopeful to hateful, from "Just Do It" to "Just Kill Us." Free agents Derek Anderson and Stromile Swift were a bust and a disappointment, respectively. Tracy McGrady, despite putting forth a stalwart effort, succumbed to back spasms and had to cash in early on in the season. The bags under fatigued coach Jeff Van Gundy's eyes evolved into full-fledged suitcases. And yet, all the while, Yao Ming stood tall (well, really damn tall) as the team's literal and figurative center. The guy whom detractors called soft averaged 22.3 points per game and in one game pulled down 21 rebounds. As his teammates struggled to find their shots, Yao hit his consistently. His never-complain (not even when tortured by a painful growth on his toe), always-deliver attitude was nothing short of heroic on a team with too few heroes. Yao has silenced critics, won new fans and established himself as a major baller and a giant among men.


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