LOS ANGELES: James Harden scored 16 points and handed out 10 assists as the Houston Rockets launched their NBA pre-season with a 131-94 rout of Yao Ming’s Shanghai Sharks.
While Yao, who starred with the Rockets for eight NBA seasons, received a warm welcome in Houston, his China Basketball Association club were in for a rougher ride in the first game between teams from the two leagues to be held in the United States.
Yao, 36, quipped that he’d suggested to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that coach Mike D’Antoni “use four players against us.”
“Obviously the NBA represents the best basketball in the world,” Yao said. “We are very fortunate to be here. It is a test for us to see the measurement.”
By any measure, the Sharks have a way to go.
The Rockets scored 72 first-half points and led by as many as 40 in their first game under new coach D’Antoni.
Yao’s two foreign imports, American Jimmer Fredette and Boston Celtics first-round draft pick Guershon Yabusele of France, led the Sharks.
Fredette scored 33 points and Yabusele 24.
Yao’s playing career was cut short in 2011 after a string of foot injuries.
But he was inducted last month into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and will have his number 11 jersey retired by the Rockets in a ceremony on February 2, during halftime of a game against Atlanta.
“So many nights when I played on that court, I looked up to those jerseys and thought those jerseys are the spirit … of the team of Houston,” he said.
Despite the lopsided score, Rockets chief executive Tad Brown said it was a fitting match-up for the NBA club.
“We’re very proud of the fact that the Shanghai Sharks are here playing an NBA team for the first time in the United States,” Brown said. “We can think of nothing more suitable than for the Houston Rockets to be hosting that game with a team owned by Yao Ming.”
‘King’ James endorses Clinton for president
NBA superstar LeBron James is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president of the United States in a move that could carry a lot of weight with voters in the pivotal state of Ohio.
“I support Hillary because she will build on the legacy of my good friend, President Barack Obama,” James wrote in an Op-Ed piece published on the Business Insider website on Sunday.
“I believe in what President Obama has done for our country, and support her commitment to continuing that legacy.”
The article is slated to run on Monday in the Akron Beacon Journal, the newspaper in James’s hometown.
James returned to his home state after a spell with the Miami Heat, and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an emotional NBA title in June.
In endorsing Clinton he writes about his decision to return to Ohio, recalling his childhood as the son of a single mother.
“Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty,” James writes. “And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear.
“That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”
James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, has become increasingly outspoken on social issues, including the racial tension that has flared across the country over police killings of black men.
James praised Democratic candidate Clinton’s message of unity.
“I don’t know everything it will take finally to end the violence,” James wrote. “But I do know we need a president who brings us together and keeps us unified.
“Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution. We must all stand together – no matter where we are from or the color of our skin. And Hillary is running on the message of hope and unity that we need.”