Wracked by injuries that curtailed his playing time in the NBA, Yao Ming(notes) called it quits on his basketball career Wednesday during a packed news conference in his hometown.
The Houston Rockets center and No. 1 draft pick in the 2002 NBA draft confirmed weeks of speculation about his retirement by opening with a simple statement: “I will formally end my career.”
He promised, though, that he wouldn’t stay far away from the sport that made him a household name in China. His impact expanded the NBA’s influence into the world’s most populous country, creating lucrative merchandise sales for the league and TV ratings that skyrocketed whenever the Rockets played.