The NBA's version of the Ming Dynasty is done. After helping pro basketball gain a foothold in the world's most populous market, Chinese star Yao Ming has retired. Yao made it official today, telling a packed news conference in his hometown that a series of foot and leg injuries forced him to end his playing career at the age of 30. Yao says he will return to work with his former Chinese team, the Shanghai Sharks, with the possibility of becoming general manager. He plans to continue his philanthropic work with his Yao Foundation.
"I will formally end my career," said Yao, the 7-foot-6 center who became a household name in China before starting his NBA career with the Houston Rockets as the top draft pick in 2002. Yao played eight seasons in the NBA, but missed 250 regular-season games over the past six years. He broke his left foot in a '08-'09 playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Yao's wife, Ye Li, and their 14-month-old daughter, Yao Qinlei, and Yao's parents, Yao Zhiyuan and Fang Fengdi, were in the room. Yao thanked his family, friends, coaches in China and in Houston and fellow competitors such as Shaquille O'Neal "for making me a better player."