Jul 8, 2011, 2:09 PM EDT
Yao Ming, a player who was both one of the better all-around centers to ever play the game and a true ambassador of the sport — but leaves us all wondering what could have been — plans to announce his retirement.
Yao, who had played just five games the past season due to injuries, has realized he can’t recover enough to play again, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
Yao, who missed all but five games of the 2010-11 season, hasn’t been able to fully recover from a tendon strain in his left leg. The veteran center informed the Rockets, the league office in New York, and NBA China of his decision to leave the game within the past 48 hours, sources said.
From a stretch of 2004 to 2007 he was the best center on the planet (if you are thinking of arguing Dwight Howard’s case, go check their head-to-head numbers). In the 2006-07 season he was the focus of the Houston Rockets offense (when on the floor 33 percent of the Rockets played ended with a Yao shot, foul or turnover), scoring 25 points a game and grabbing 9.4 boards. He had great moves around the basket, amazing footwork, but at 7’6” he also 48 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet out, and 44 percent from 16 feet out to the arc that season — you had to respect the jumper. He was also a gifted passer as a big man. He was a complete player.
He was an eight-time All-Star (in part due to a huge online vote from China, one which make him an All-Star last season even when injured and out for the season).
Then a series of injuries did in his career.
He will be remembered as one of the first true global ambassadors of the sport, brining the NBA to China. There could not have been a better person for the job, a thoughtful and kind giant that was loved and respected around the globe.
He will be missed.
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