What heritage has Yao Ming left besides basketball?

13:30, July 10, 2011      

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Houston Rockets' player Yao Ming smiles during an event to appreciate the fans' support, in Houston, the United States, March 24, 2011. (Xinhua/Song Qiong)

By Randy Williams

Basketball has suffered a big loss: Yao Ming, the 7-foot-6 center and 8-time NBA All-Star is reportedly retiring due to career-ending injuries.

Citing league sources, Yahoo! Sports and the Houston Chronicle have reported the Houston Rockets center has decided to leave the game after nine NBA seasons.

Yao, who averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in eight seasons, played in just five games over the past two seasons as a result foot and ankle problems despite multiple surgeries to repair the damage.

When he was introduced last month as the new Rocket coach Kevin McHale said, "We'd all be really happy if Yao comes back to play, and I hope he can. I think he'll give it his best shot. His body is going to dictate if he can come back and play."

Yao, who turns 31 in September, had stated back in May that his surgically repaired left ankle was healing properly and that he wanted to remain with the Rockets. But it just came down to the fact after a lengthy rehab Yao just wasn't able to perform at the level he and the team had hoped for.

His contract had expired after this past season with the Rockets, who have missed the playoffs the last two seasons.

The big man, who excelled for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) before his historical move to the NBA as the Rockets' top pick in the 2002 draft, made an impact from the start averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.74 blocks in 82 games and was selected to the All-Rookie, All-Star team. He was the only rookie to lead his team in both rebounds and blocks, and the only rookie to rank in the top 20 in three statistical categories.

Respected by other giants such as Shaq O' Neal because Yao was a big man who relied on skill in addition to size, O' Neal stepped up his game in their head-to-head meetings dashing out on screens, recovering on pick-and-rolls knowing Yao had more tools than most centers including: versatile low-post maneuvering, surprising footwork and a brilliant shooting touch. His mobility in the post and a jump hook that was practically impossible to block were keys to him being a top player.

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