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  • Home > News > Details
    Yao: I'm motivated by daughter

    China's Dong Hanlin (left) tries to shoot over an American player during an exhibition match on Sunday in Jiyuan, Henan province. Some of China's young players have the potential to be drafted by NBA teams, said Daimon Beathea, who is a player evaluator for the Utah Jazz. Provided to China Daily

    BEJING - China's basketball icon, Yao Ming, says his baby daughter is a "tempting" incentive for him to continue his injury-plagued career, but his injured left ankle is only 30 percent of the way to a full recovery.

    "I wish she (Yao's daughter) could watch me play and even win a championship as she grows up and not only see through video highlights how her dad played before," Yao said during a recent interview with CCTV.

    The Houston Rockets' all-star center brought his one-year-old daughter, Amy, to China last month for the first time since her birth in the United States.

    "She is definitely a big motivation for me to continue my role as a player, although my foot still needs lots of treatment to meet the game's demands," said Yao, who has been sidelined by a stress fracture of his left ankle since last December.

    The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) placed Yao on the national team's roster for summer training last month and still hopes to count on him at next year's London Olympics.

    However, the giant stressed his future as a national representative depended on his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery to repair the ankle in January.

    "Walking or jogging is OK for me now, but I need to get 80 percent of my strength back to play I have got only about 30 percent at most now. I also need exhibition games to assist my recovery, not only working out alone," said Yao, who took off his protective boot two months ago.

    The uncertain status of the NBA has also made this summer a decisive one for the 30-year-old.

    Yao's five-year contract with the Rockets, which is valued at $76 million, expires on June 30, and then there's also the chance of a league lockout.

    Meanwhile, NBA legend Kevin McHale was hired to coach the Rockets on Thursday and he believes Houston should offer oft-injured Yao a non-guaranteed contract next season, according to a recent TV interview.

    However, Yao stressed his deep emotional attachment to Houston and said he wants to stay there as long as his ankle heals properly.

    "I've spent the best 10 years of my life playing and living here (Houston), the city provided me with an ideal stage to show myself and that makes it much harder to bid a farewell," said Yao, who has played 481 games and scored 9,196 points for the Rockets since 2002.

    Yao led Houston to the Western Conference semifinals in 2009, the team's best performance in the past 10 years, and he hailed that roster as "the most competitive" he had played with.

    However, his favorite lineup has fallen apart and, like other stars, he could be tempted to join a team with legitimate title aspirations.

    "I don't know if I would join some champion team in the future. I don't even know if I can play again. Actually, the championship ring has become not so important in my plans. My main thought for the next 10 years is to look after my family and continue my community activities," said Yao, who will visit Northwest China's Gansu province for charity work this week.

    Whether he plays again or not, Yao's ambition is to promote the nation's basketball development.

    The national team's backbone, who led the squad to a record-matching top-eight finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, wants the sport's governing body to push the game at the grassroots level, and not just invest in the top leagues and national programs.

    "My biggest contribution to basketball here is that I have inspired a huge amount of love for the sport in the country," Yao said.

    China Daily

    (China Daily 06/07/2011 page1)

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