Rock­ets’ Yao will con­sider re­tire­ment if his in­jured foot doesn’t fully heal

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS BRIEFING -

BEI­JING — Hous­ton Rock­ets cen­ter Yao Ming is con­sid­er­ing quit­ting bas­ket­ball af­ter next sea­son if he doesn’t fully re­cover from his lin­ger­ing foot in­jury.

In com­ments to Chi­nese state me­dia Mon­day, Yao sounded far from op­ti­mistic about his fu­ture and also made a rare crit­i­cism of China’s na­tional bas­ket­ball pro­gram.

“If the foot in­jury does not heal next sea­son, I might choose to call it quits,” he said.

Yao turns 30 in Septem­ber and missed last sea­son fol­low­ing foot surgery. He is set to re­turn to the Rock­ets af­ter de­cid- ing not to opt out of the fi­nal year of his con­tract. Though he has said his re­cov­ery was go­ing well, the Rock­ets have signed 7-foot vet­eran Brad Miller to share the work at cen­ter.

Yao, who was in China for char­ity events and re­mains wildly pop­u­lar in his coun­try, all but ruled out play­ing in the 2012 London Olympics.

“The chance is very small,” the 7-foot-6-inch cen­ter said. “The foot in­jury will not al­low me to play so many games any­more. Like I said be­fore, I will quit the na­tional team and the sport one day. It’s what hap­pens to ev­ery ath­lete.”

Yao also made sur­pris­ingly crit­i­cal com­ments about the Chi­nese na­tional team.

“We are pay­ing for what we didn’t do lead­ing up to 2008. We skipped the devel­op­ment of a re­serve team and the CBA league and fo­cused only on the na­tional team and the Olympics. It’s like you are killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” he said. “I’m 30. As an ath­lete, I am not the fu­ture of China bas­ket­ball any­more.”

Yao Ming will re­turn to Rock­ets this fall af­ter sit­ting out a year with a foot in­jury.

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