The 7’6’’ giant and 2002 NBA draft number 1 selection, Yao Ming, announced his retirement from basketball today in Shanghai – his hometown. Over the last six seasons on basketballs biggest stage, Yao had suffered various foot and leg injuries that in the end brought about the eight times All-Star’s retirement.
Drafted by Houston in 2002, Yao had a successful career including the eight All-Star selections, two All-NBA second team and three times named to the All-NBA third team; and was named in the NBA All-Rookie first team.
In a press conference held in China, Yao attributed his departure from the court to stress fractures in his left foot for the third time at the end of last year. The Houston Rocket star was instrumental in promoting the game in Asia and in most cases, his supporters back home got him the numbers for the All-Star games.
Yao leaves the NBA with an average of 19 points per game and 9.2 rebounds. His presence inside the paint was key to the Rockets playing in the playoffs in consecutive years after his rookie season.
The former Shanghai Sharks missed all of the 2009-10 NBA season due to a broken foot whilst playing against the LA Lakers in the playoffs. Fans were excited to see him back but that excitement turned to sorrow when he again broke his foot after only fives games.
Yao thanked former coaches and NBA teammates and competitors including another recent NBA retiree and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal.