Chinese basketball legend and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinee Yao Ming was the subject of a $1 million bounty between the members of the United States Olympic Basketball team during the 2000 Olympics, according to one of the members of that team, 2004 NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Garnett.
In a Q & A session with Alex Wong of Yahoo Sports, Garnett provided the following details on the conditions of the bounty placed on Yao, who was emerging as a global basketball phenom:
“…people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss.”
Following the 2000 Olympics, in which the United States took home the Gold Medal and defeated the Yao led Chinese National Team 119-72, Yao would go on to be selected first overall in the 2002 NBA Draft. In his Hall of Fame career, Yao would become an eight-time all-star with the Houston Rockets, who would retire his number 11 jersey in 2017.
Garnett’s account of the Team USA bounty on Yao Ming only adds to the near-mythic reputation that precedes Yao, who is currently the President of the Chinese Basketball Association and arguably the most impactful player in the spread of the NBA into global markets.