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Yao Ming, the Rockets' 7-foot-6 center, will retire, reports say

July 8, 2011 |  1:50 pm


Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets' 7-foot-6 center from China, will retire, according to a report by Yahoo Sports that cited sources in the NBA office. The Houston Chronicle and other media outlets have also reported his decision to retire.

The eight-time NBA All-Star has played in only five games since the 2008-09 season because of a variety of injuries, mainly to his feet. The cult hero first rose to prominence for the Shanghai Sharks as a teenager before starring on the Chinese national team. The Rockets made him the No. 1 overall selection in the 2002 NBA draft.

Yao, 30, averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and nearly two blocked shots a game during a career in which he was selected to the All-NBA team five times. But after missing only a few games in his first three seasons, he missed at least 25 games each of the last five seasons.

Houston had a formidable one-two punch in Yao and All-Star swingman Tracy McGrady, but the two  helped the Rockets advance past the first round of the playoffs only once, when they beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2009 playoffs. Yao sustained a stress fracture in his left foot during the next series against the Lakers, and the team's postseason run ended.

John Huizinga, one of Yao's American agents, would not confirm the report during a phone interview with the Associated Press on Friday. He said Yao's recovery was “on track” but Yao's future with the Rockets has been uncertain for some time.

“He's really enjoyed his time in Houston,” Huizinga told AP. “If he feels that he's recovered enough to play, and if the lockout ever ends, and if the Rockets are interested in him, then there's certainly a good chance he'll stay in Houston.

“But there are a whole lot of 'ifs' in that statement.”


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-- Dan Loumena

Photo: Rockets center Yao Ming defends in the post against Lakers center Andrew Bynum during the 2009 playoffs. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times