Rumours are that the 30-year-old has told the US National Basketball Association (NBA) about the plan due to persistent injuries. His agent has refused to confirm (nor deny) the news though, stating that everything will be announced by the player himself on the mentioned date.
The 2.29m (7ft 6in) Houston Rocket centre was the first pick of the 2002 NBA draft. He has been plagued by injuries for the past few years, primarily on his left foot/leg. He barely played in the past two seasons, so it won’t be surprising if he’s indeed retiring. He averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in 486 NBA games during his career.
It’s debatable how good a player Yao is (or was?), but he’s no doubt one of the world’s most iconic sportsmen ever. He puts China on the global map, and in turn popularises basketball in the world’s most populated country too.
[Update] Yao has officially announced his retirement from professional basketball as expected. Best wishes to his future endeavour.
The 19-year-old power forward will become the 4th Chinese player in NBA after Wang Zhizhi, Menk Bateer and Houston Rockets star centre Yao Ming.
Yi is 6ft 11in. He previously played for Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association and has played with the Chinese national team in the 2004 Olympic Games and 2006 World Championships.
Yi is surprised with Milwaukee’s decision to pick him, as he has previously expressed his desire to play in a city with heavy Asian influence. Milwaukee, with an estimated 27,500 Asian-American population, certainly doesn’t fit the bill.
The Chinese international however remains positive with his NBA future. “It’s a surprise to me… I’m not really familiar with the city as well, but I’m happy to be playing with the team and happy to play in the NBA.”