Yao Ming Says Goodbye

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It ended where it all began...Shanghai.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming says goodbye to a career that has made him a truly global star.

“Today I need to make a personal decision. I say, basketball, the player I will stop my career, my basketball career and I will formally retire today,” said Ming.

Yao has finally given in to constant foot and ankle injuries that have troubled him for years.

In an announcement mostly in mandarin, Yao thanked his family and his fans especially in China, but he paused briefly in English to pay tribute to his adopted home Houston.

“Special thanks to my friends overseas, especially to fans in Houston,” says Yao. “I would like to thank you for giving me great nine years during my NBA career. Nine years ago I came to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player and the entire city and the team changed me to a grown man, not only a basketball player."

Looking back at his career, he certainly has come a long way since he was drafted into the NBA in 2002.

“I remember the 2002 NBA draft, the thrill really of Yao being picked first and the interview from the headquarters of CNN China that he went into, to talk to us and to see his reaction and to see America’s reaction to Yao,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Back then his English wasn't as polished and his game was still raw. He had it all in front of him.

He was voted an all-star player 8 times while playing for the Rockets and he helped the team reach the playoffs 4 times.

He's represented China and played at the Olympics.

“Yao Ming opened up basketball to assai especially China; over a billion people,” said Yao fan Stephen Arong. “It`s just sad that the injuries has plagued his career but

I think he meant a lot to the NBA.”

Another Yao fan Shae Williams says, “He absolutely added some support to the squad and you know it just kinda sucks he had to go so quick.”

Yao will always be one of Houston’s legends, up there with greats like Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon and Nolan Ryan.

“I think Houston loved him. He started and ended his career here in Houston. He did a lot during the playoffs and yeah he was just really good to the community,” said Arong.

We couldn`t agree more.

So Yao, from us to you...xie xie ('sheh sheh') and zai jian (zay jean).

(Thank you and goodbye).

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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