Great Yao retires

15:37, July 20, 2011      

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"Gentle Giant" Yao Ming announced his retirement from basketball in Shanghai on Wednesday.

"Today is an important day for me and holds a special meaning for both my basketball career and my future," said Yao, who has impressed the world with a formidable set of basketball skills, an engaging personality and the commitment to social responsibility..

"I had to leave the court when I suffered stress fracture in my left foot for the third time at the end of last year. My past six months was an agonizing wait. I had been thinking (about my future) over and over.

"Today I would announce my personal decision to end my career as a basketball player and officially retire."

The 2.26-meter Shanghai native, who played for eight seasons in the NBA after being the top overall pick in the 2002 draft, has been troubled with a series of injuries.

Yao, who will turn 31 in September, averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds and has been named to the NBA All-star team eight times.

Apart from his on-court performance, Yao's achievements off the court made him a phenomenen more than a player.

The Chinese big guy wearing Rockets' 11 shirt single-handedly raised the NBA profile among one fifth of mankind, helping to promote exchange between the Chinese and American cultures.

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