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June 29, 2017

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Yao may retire next year if foot does not heal

BEIJING -- China's Yao Ming says he might end his basketball career next year if the injury to his left foot does not heal properly by the end of the NBA season, state media reported on Tuesday.

The Houston Rockets center, who missed last season after surgery on his left foot, also confirmed that he was unlikely to play in the London Olympics in 2012.

The seven-times NBA All Star, scheduled to return to the Rockets for the start of the 2010-11 season, is recovering from surgery for an injury the Rockets' team doctor described as "career-threatening."

The injury, which occurred during a game in May 2009, was the latest in a series of physical problems which have blighted an NBA career that began when Yao was the first overall draft pick by the Rockets in 2002.

"If the foot injury does not heal next season, I might choose to call it quits," he was quoted as saying last weekend by state news agency Xinhua.

The seven-foot six-inch (2.28m) Yao exercised the player option in his contract with the Rockets last month to avoid free agency and expects to be ready for pre-season training.

Still China's most popular and wealthiest sportsman despite a year on the sidelines, Yao said before the Beijing Olympics that he was unlikely to play for his country at another Games.

"The chance (to play in London) is very little. The foot injury will not allow me to play so many games anymore," he said. "As an athlete, I am not the future of China basketball anymore."

Yao, who will turn 30 in September, also criticized China's lack of focus on development of young basketball talent before the Beijing Olympics.

"We are paying for what we didn't do leading up to 2008," he said. "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."

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