Report: Yao Ming Will Retire After Nine Seasons

LOS ANGELES CA - OCTOBER 26: Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets walks off the court during their opening night game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 26 2010 in Los Angeles California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Houston Rockets center and global basketball icon Yao Ming will retire from professional basketball. This, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

Yao played just five games last season, and hasn't been able to fully recover after having surgery in January to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. The veteran center informed the Rockets, the league office in New York and NBA China of his decision to leave the game within the past 48 hours, sources said.

[Follow the SB Nation StoryStream on Yao's retirement here]

This announcement comes as no surprise to those of us who remember Yao's comments from a year ago, when he noted that if he ever had to go into an extensive recovery period without achieving full results, he'd just as soon leave the game and save the time and energy. Though it's a somber, anticlimactic ending to a spectacular career, it's the right call for Yao. The foot, it appears, never healed as it should have.

Be happy that Yao retired a Rocket, if only because he wanted to retire a Rocket. Regardless of whether or not we believe the Rockets could have benefitted from trading Yao last season, having gone through the Hakeem Olajuwon situation with Toronto, I'm glad to say that this is an ending free of bitterness.

Looking for a positive from The Ming Dynasty's end? It allows Houston to move into a new era of Rockets basketball. There no longer exists the Yao Ming crutch, on which Daryl Morey could lean when he fell short in his pursuit of a center. That crutch has finally snapped, and now it's up to Morey to find a true replacement.

Sadly, most of the talk surrounding Yao's retirement will include "what could have been." I'm not so inclined to bypass his achievements as if they are null and void. Yao changed the game of basketball off the court and dominated opponents on it. Think about it: when Houston selected the Great Wall back in 2002, I don't remember many people predicting that the 7-foot-6 softy would quickly develop into an absolute monster and eventually become the best center of his era.

That's right, Charles Barkley. Kiss my ass: Yao Ming was the best, Dwight Howard included.

(Actually, regarding Howard, it wasn't even close when the two went head-to-head. These stats are just mind-boggling.)

The Dream Shake will have more thoughts and opinions on Yao's retirement in the coming days. For now, though, you can enjoy this clip of Yao back in his prime. Among all of the video options, I chose this, the single most badass moment of Yao's career that I can recall.

Thanks, big guy.

UPDATE: Former running mate Tracy McGrady -- who has since changed his Twitter avatar to a picture of Yao -- chimes in on the announcement:

Picture_28_medium

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join The Dream Shake

You must be a member of The Dream Shake to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Dream Shake. You should read them.

Join The Dream Shake

You must be a member of The Dream Shake to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Dream Shake. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker