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Yao Ming’s No.11 Jersey Retirement: Describe It in Mandarin Chinese

Mar. 1, 2017

Basketball player 姚明 Yao Ming is the most famous athlete in China’s history. Yao played for the Shanghai Sharks from 1997 to 2002 and then played for the NBA’s Houston Rockets from 2002 to 2011. Standing 7’6” tall (229cm), Yao was dominating in the position of “center” and was elected as an “All-Star” eight times. Yao Ming stopped playing basketball professionally in 2011. Since then, he has been honored many times for his accomplishments. His NBA retirement speech is famous in China, when he used the Mandarin Chinese term 万事如意 (wànshìrúyì) which means “follow your dreams”.

(Source from: STV 15.3 Houston channel at

In 2016, Yao Ming was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame along with Shaquille O’Neil and Alan Iverson. This was a big event for Yao and for all of China, as he was the first Asian player to be given this honor.

In 2017 the Houston Rockets had a ceremony and “退役 (tuìyì) retired” Yao’s jersey No.11. This means that no future Houston Rocket will ever wear No.11 again. In his speech, Yao said that it was “the highest honor a player can achieve for themselves and for the team.”

Language Point:

“退役 (tuìyì)” is used as a verb for “retire” and is often used for those leaving the military. In this case, Yao’s No. 11 basketball jersey was “退役 (tuìyì) retired” by the Houston Rockets of the NBA.

Examples of “退役 (tuìyì)” in a sentence:

Tā shì yí wèi tuìyì de hǎijūn jūnguān.
他  是 一 位 退役 的  海军    军官。
He is a retired naval officer.

Tā yīnwèi shòushāng ér tuìyì le.
他   因为    受伤        而 退役 了。
He was released from the army because of the wounds he suffered.


You can say that something or someone “退役 (tuìyì)” in the following situations except:

A. Jack was invalided out of the army because of the wounds he received.
B. A ship will be taken out of service within two years.
C. You are working half time at your job
D. Yao Ming’s jersey number is no longer being used
See Answer

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”

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