Yao Ming Officially Retires from NBA

Chinese basketball sensation Yao Ming announced his retirement from the National Basketball Association on Wednesday after a succession of injuries.

The Houston Rockets player chose his home city of Shanghai to make his announcement and put an end to weeks of speculation after he told the Houston Rockets he would not be returning next season.

Yao said that despite his resignation he would not be leaving basketball behind.

"Today I have retired, but as one door closes, another door gradually opens and a brand new life is waiting for me outside that door. Although I have retired from the court, I will never leave basketball. The Shanghai Oriental Sharks Basketball Club will be the extension of my basketball career. I am running the club with the knowledge that I have learnt over the years," he said.

He then switched to speaking in English to pay tribute to his adopted city of U.S. city of Houston and his team mates at the Rockets.

"Nine years ago I came to Houston as a young, tall, skinny player. The entire city and the team changed me to a grown man, not only a basketball player, and also I gained my first daughter over there. I feel also I am like a Houstonian, and I will always be with you. Thank you," Yao said.

Yao ignited China's interest in the NBA and became one of Asia's best-known athletes ever since he was selected by Houston in the 2002 draft.

Many Chinese basketball fans credit him with their love of the game.

The seven-foot, six-inch (2.3-metre) Yao became the first international player to make the top pick in the NBA draft in 2002, opening the door to lucrative NBA marketing ventures in China.

But the eight-time All-Star has been cursed by injury in the United States.

He missed the entire 2009-10 NBA season after suffering a fractured bone in his left foot.

Yao played only five games for the Rockets last season before being sidelined on November 10 when he injured his ankle during the first quarter of Houston's 98-91 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Yao's five-year contract with the Rockets, valued at $76 million (US), expired on June 30.