Finally, Yao Ming had enough. And a career unlike any other came to an end.
Nearly a decade spent carrying the weight of expectations and demands could not hold him down, but with little confidence he could play without more of the injuries that had wrecked the second half of his career, Yao has told the Rockets he plans to retire, several individuals familiar with the decision confirmed Friday.
Yao, who became the face of China’s new outreach to the West and the NBA’s explosive growth in China, reversed his previous intention to try one more comeback, concerned that further stress injuries would hamper him long after his playing career.
“Yao is a key cultural milepost in our development,” Stern said in Beijing during last October’s China Games. “He gave the Chinese fans a huge reason to follow the NBA and become even more familiar with it and feel so good about themselves to have produced such a great player and person. Secondarily, it gave Americans a way to follow China through a different lens. It’s been wonderful.”