It looks like Yao Ming isn’t going to wait until the NBA lockout is over to make a decision on his NBA future.
According to a report on Yahoo! Sports, Yao is going to retire after only playing in five games last season for the Houston Rockets after having surgery to fix a stress fracture in his left foot.
The seven-foot-six center from China informed the Rockets and league officials of his retirement earlier this week, according to the report. Yao was going to be a free agent after his disappointing year with the Rockets.
Yao, played eight years in the NBA after he was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the top overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Unlike other big men in basketball, Yao was able to shoot the ball consistently, as well as play in the post.
When he took over the center position for the Rockets, Yao became a popular figure globally, especially in his native China, where he became the face of basketball.
Yao averaged 19 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during his NBA career. His first season came in 2002, when he averaged 13.5 points per game as a rookie. His point total continued to grow from 2004 to 2007 when he averaged a career, high 25 points per game, while only playing in 48 games during the 2006-2007 season.
Yao suffered numerous bone injuries over his career, limiting his time on the court. After only playing in 55 games during the 2007-2008 season, Yao played in 77 games the following year. Injuries, however, slowed him down again, and Yao appeared in only five games last year.
Recently retired center, and future Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal took to Twitter to respond to the news of Yao’s retirement. “Congrats on your retirement Yao Ming,” O’Neal said on his official Twitter page.
Included in the tweet was a video message by Shaq. “I’m going to miss you bro,” O’Neal said. “You’re one of the greatest players to come out of China. One of the greatest players period. I’m going to miss you brother.” He added, “Enjoy retirement, let’s go on vacation bro, me and you.”
Yao’s former teammate with the Rockets, Tracy McGrady also responded on Twitter saying, “yao ming absolutely instrumental in the growth and popularity of our game abroad.”