The career of any pro-athlete is far too short; in most cases players are choosing a new career path before they hit the age of forty. Not only do these athletes compete daily in a race against time, they also have to perform knowing that at any moment they could suffer a career ending injury. The “Houston Chronicle” reported Friday that according to their sources Houston Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming will announce his retirement after playing nine seasons in the NBA. The native of China has been battling injuries over the last five seasons, and has only played five games during the past two seasons. Yao suffered a stress fracture in his left leg last November, and there had been reports over the last couple of months that he may not have been able to play at all next season.
The Rockets center was a legend on and off the court, having become the most well-known basketball player in China even before he first laced up his sneakers to play in the Association. When the 7’6″ pivot man was drafted with the first pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Rockets people all over China started to follow the Association not only to watch their home-grown player, but other talented NBA athletes as well. Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant is among NBA players who are idolized in China.
Yao was an NBA All-Star selection eight times during his career in the Association. He averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game during his years in the NBA. Playing in an era when almost all pro-athletes encountered bad publicity, Yao steered away from controversy throughout his career. He seemed to be universally liked and respected throughout the Association. The NBA and its fans will miss the class that the native of China brought to the game, on and off the hardwood.