Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has reportedly decided to retire from the NBA, ending an up-and-down nine-year career ravaged by injuries.
Sources told Yahoo! Sports that the 30-year-old Chinese big man has decided to call it quits on a frustrating NBA career that included eight All-Star selections and numerous leg and foot injuries. Ming notified the league office, the Rockets and NBA China of his decision over the past 48 hours, sources said.
The 7-foot-6 Ming earned instant global fame when was chosen as the first overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft, but the player once predicted to become one of the NBA’s dominant centers struggled to make an impact as numerous injuries sidelined him for large portions of recent seasons.
Ming only played five games for the Rockets during the 2010-11 season due to a tendon strain in his left leg, but previously stated that he wanted to remain with the Rockets if he could get healthy. He averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds during his career in Houston.
Yao Ming was the most popular NBA player in China, where the league has enjoyed huge growth in the past five years, however an NBA executive recently told AFP that he did not think that if Yao Ming retired that it would hurt the league’s prospects for growth in China.
"Yao has done amazing things to grow interest in the NBA in China. With the help of charismatic role models like him, the NBA has already built a strong foundation. I am very confident of maintaining the momentum upwards."