Yao Ming, still recovering from injury, is casting doubt he will return to a career in the NBA.
Recovering from injury, Yao unsure of career
Yao Ming has cast doubt on his return to the NBA, admitting he may not play again as he battles to recover from his latest injury.
The towering Houston Rockets centre, China's most recognisable athlete, told China's CCTV he could not predict when, or indeed if, he would fully recover from a serious ankle fracture suffered in November.
"I don't know if I would join some champion team in the future," the China Daily quoted him as saying when asked about leaving a new-look Rockets team. "I don't even know if I can play again."
Yao also said the prospect of playing in front of his baby daughter, Amy, gave him extra motivation to continue his injury-plagued career in the NBA.
"I wish she could watch me play and even win a championship," the 7ft 6in (2.28-metre) Yao said.
"Not only see through video highlights how her dad played. She is definitely a big motivation for me to continue, although my foot still needs lots of treatment."
Yao also confessed he was not sure how he would fit in with the plans of Kevin McHale, the new Rockets coach.
"A championship ring has become not so important in my plans," Yao said. "My main thought for the next 10 years is to look after my family and continue my community activities."
Yao's five-year contract with the Rockets, valued at US$76 million (Dh 279.1m), expires on June 30.
The 30 year old triggered NBA-mania in China after being selected first overall by Houston in the 2002 draft but has been cursed by injury in the United States. Yao insisted it would be hard to leave the Rockets.
"I have spent the best 10 years of my life playing and living [in Houston]," the former All-Star said. "That makes it much harder to bid farewell."