China: Around The Nation

NBA legend Yao Ming may lead China’s professional basketball body: media report

Former star of Houston Rockets, who was inducted into basketball’s Hall of Fame in 2016, retired from sport in 2011

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 1:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 January, 2017, 1:28pm

China may name retired basketball legend Yao Ming as chairman of the body running the country’s professional basketball league, the Chinese Basketball Association, mainland media reported.

However, both Yao and the association have refused to comment on the report.

Yao, 36, is the country’s most successful player in history – having played for the Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association in the US from 2002 to 2011. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

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The new Sports Minister Gou Zhongwen suggested that Yao should be considered for the role of head of the CBA or even the head coach of the national team, in a written instruction on the development of basketball in China, the Basketball Pioneer newspaper reported.

Yao’s fine talents at basketball and his imposing 2.29-metre height saw him become a star of the Houston Rockets. He also led the China men’s national team to eighth place at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

After retirement, Yao bought the Shanghai Sharks – the CBA team for whom he played from 1997 to 2002 before playing in the NBA.

Last year Yao set up a “Chinese Professional Basketball League company”, consisting of 18 clubs, to try to get the CBA to allow teams greater autonomy in the running of the league, but his reform proposal was rejected by the CBA.

He and 10 other celebrities were also appointed “Ambassadors to Mars” last year to promote the nation’s first mission to Mars in 2020.

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Gou now intended to reorganise the state-run administration of basketball and make it a self-governed and market-driven organisation, the report said.

“Yao is the best choice. He has had an excellent basketball career and a broad range of experience thanks to his time playing in the NBA,” the paper quoted the minister’s instruction as saying.