According to sources, Yao Ming has retired from the NBA.
I'm sad. I'm very sad. I still remember so clearly all the hype surrounding him the summer before the Houston Rockets made him the number one pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. In the months prior, I remember getting yelled at in my Grade 10 computer class for using the computers to search online for his stats, his CBA games, and anything else Yao related I could find. It was all so utterly compelling - the first true star player from China. Wang ZhiZhi and Mengke Bateer paved the way, but they were no stars. And the fact that he was a fellow Shanghainese? I've been a diehard fan from the start, and even more so as I watched his NBA career unfold.
The 2008 Olympics was a dream come true, but he clearly rushed his way back far too soon. The national team is notorious for grinding its star players to the bone, but with Yao, the pressure was inhumane. Watching this giant of man carry our flag into the stadium was so appropriate. There simply is no better representative for our people.
So his career is over. Hall of Fame? Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated thinks so. But for now, I think it's important to remember everything this wonderful person did. Tonight, every Chinese person needs to raise a toast for our compatriot, the greatest Chinese athlete ever to lace up.