NBA All-Star center Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets has indicated that he may retire after next season if his foot does not heal as expected. Yao made his comments before the Xinhua News Agency while promoting charity events in China. He will likely miss the 2012 London Olympics as well.
After missing the entire 2010 NBA season, he is set to get back in action. On paper, the Rockets seem to have the manpower to make a good run next season. They ended last season with a 42-40 win-loss record, missing the playoffs without the talented center.
What remains to be seen is how Yao will adjust with players he has not played with before. Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest are gone but they probably have a deeper roster this year with the addition of Kevin Martin, Trevor Ariza, promising young players in Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill. They also have re-signed hardworking Luis Scola and backup point guard Kyle Lowry.
In addition, the Rockets signed Brad Miller to provide solid minutes as backup center for Yao. Miller should be able to ease up some minutes from Yao, which can help reduce Yao’s playing time through the regular season and beyond.
Yao Ming is one of the best centers we have seen in the NBA. At 30, it would be sad to see a such a talented big man leave the game. We have seen players who have clearly diminished skills who have overstayed in the league for their own good. Yao still has the skills that make him an elite player but the body may just not hold up.
Literally and figuratively, Yao’s size 18 shoes will be very difficult to fill.