Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has reportedly decided to retire after nine seasons in the NBA and will announce this decision on July 20th. Yao’s contract had expired after the 2010-11 season, with the Chinese born player missing most of it through various injuries. This played a huge part in the Rockets’ play-off prospects, as they failed to reach the play-offs in the last two seasons.
Yao missed the whole of the 2009-10 season and could only play in 5 games of last season as he was plagued with a number of injuries in his lower body; surgery was needed on his left ankle after it was broken after the five games he played in 2010, that was after he had recovered from breaking his left foot.
New Houston coach Kevin McHale said of Yao last month, “We’d all be really happy if [he] comes back to play, and I hope he can.” However, it seems that the 7-foot-6 star has decided to end his career after making being an eight-time All-Star selection and helping Houston to the play-offs several times since he arrived in 2002.
As well as his impact on the Rockets, his impact was felt throughout the NBA as he single-handedly opened up a massive market for the NBA, in China. Merchandise sales rocketed upwards and TV ratings throughout China were extremely high after he was picked first in the 2002 NBA Draft. During his nine seasons in the league he became one of China’s household names, leading to him carrying his country’s flag during the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony.