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