Yao Ming’s Hall of Fame NBA career saw him net $93,390,336 in NBA money, per Spotrac. Despite being only able to play in 486 games because of injury, Ming’s impact on and off the floor can’t be measured, particularly in China.
Ming came over to America in 2002 after the Houston Rockets selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft. The big man made $3,858,240 during his rookie season with Houston while averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
In his second year, Yao Ming made $4,147,560. He completed his rookie deal with the Rockets by making $4,436,880 in Year 3 and $5,594,906 in Year 4.
Houston made the logical decision of signing Ming to a five-year, $75 million extension before the start of the 2005-06 season. The contract was set to kick in during the 2006-07 campaign.
Ming earned $12,455,000 in Year 1 of his extension. He finished the lucrative deal by collecting $13,762,775 in 2007-08, $15,070,550 in 2008-09, $16,378,325 in 2009-10 and $17,686,100 in 2010-11.
However, Yao Ming missed the entire 2009-10 season recovering from a broken left foot. The Hall of Famer suffered the injury in the 2009 playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.
That injury, unfortunately, turned out to be career-ending for Ming. He tried to make a comeback in 2010-11. Yao played in five games and put up 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds before deciding to call it quits.
Yao Ming finished his NBA career with averages of 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He shot 52.4 percent from the field, 83.3 percent from the free-throw line, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2016. Yao is also the seventh leading scorer in Rockets franchise history. The team also recently retired his jersey and its currently hanging in the rafters of the Toyota Center.
The most money Ming made during a single season was $17,686,100. That wound up being the year he only played in five games because of the foot injury.
It’s unfortunate Yao Ming wasn’t able to have a longer career due to an unfortunate spate of injuries. He would have easily made over $150 million in career earnings, maybe even more. His career will always be one of those “what if” stories, although it remains to be seen if his playstyle would have transitioned to the modern NBA.