Asia-Pacific

Chinese NBA star Yao Ming retires from basketball

NBA player Yao Ming speaks during a news conference to announce his retirement from basketball, in Shanghai July 20, 2011
Image caption Yao Ming said he had been through an agonising six months

China's biggest sports star, basketball player Yao Ming, has announced his retirement after weeks of rumours.

The 7ft 6in (2.3m) Houston Rockets player said he had been suffering ever since he broke his foot at the end of last year.

Yao said he would join up with Chinese team the Shanghai Sharks, possibly in the role of general manager.

The 30-year-old is the NBA's most famous Asian player. Injuries forced him to miss the 2009-2010 season.

His retirement was expected, after widespread media reports in the US last week.

He told a news conference in Shanghai that the past six months had been "agonising" as he weighed up his future in the game.

"I had been thinking over and over. Today I am announcing a personal decision: ending my career as a basketball player. But one door is closing and another one is opening," he said.

Yao had missed an estimated 250 regular-season games - roughly half of Houston's schedule - in the last six seasons with a number of foot and ankle injuries.

Analysts say Yao has had a huge international impact on the game and was a driving force behind the NBA establishing a China venture in 2007.

NBA official David Stern said in a statement that he looked forward to continuing to work with Yao in some capacity in the future.

"Yao Ming has been a transformational player for our league and a source of enormous pride to the people of China and people of Chinese descent in the United States," he said.

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