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Video of Yao’s first interview since his retirement

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
by John

Yahoo Sports yesterday released a series of videos that is an in-depth interview of Yao Ming in Shanghai, the first interview he has given since his retirement.

Below is the main interview that has been edited for brevity. Although it’s good (and long at 23 minutes, with a couple of commercials inserted), if you really want to get into all of the details, you should watch every clip below the first one because the description “full episode” is a misnomer — there is more detail in each of the 16 videos that follow. Yes, 16 videos. Wow!

This by far is the best interview I’ve ever seen of Yao on video. I give alot of credit to interviewer Graham Bensinger for living up to the name of his show — “In Depth.” For long-time Yao fans, many of Bensinger’s questions might seem basic that you already know the answers to, but I did learn a few things, which made them worth watching.

I put some notes under each video as an indicator of what’s discussed in the clip, but it’s not an all-inclusive list.

Yao on his retirement decision (8:20)

– The first people he told about retiring was his parents and his wife. He was tired of the rehab and the injuries. He decided to retire near the end of February for his long-term health.
– He said his left foot is obviously weaker than his right foot, and it would never have gotten back to how it was originally.
– He will still workout on the basketball court at the Shanghai Sharks’ facility.
– He obviously didn’t achieve his basketball goals, with one being not winning an NBA championship, but he can still build his Sharks.
– He said his doctors say he could probably play another two or three years, but there is no guarantee he wouldn’t get injured again, so he chooses to protect his health.

His new life after retirement (7:50)

– He said he is “getting fat” (has added about 20-30 pounds) but because he is so large, it doesn’t show very much. He hasn’t worked out much since his retirement, but is thinking of working out hard again.
– He has been focusing on his team (the Sharks), some businesses, and his Foundation. He spent about 15-16 hours over a two-day period with his Foundation team, who are businessmen. He isn’t accustomed to long meetings like that, but his business people didn’t think it was that long.
– Houston was the right team for him. He feels “very warm” to them.
– He worked very hard in Houston because he felt his coaches and teammates had his “back” and were willing to protect him.
– He retired in Shanghai because he played 5 years there, and grew up there.
– He needs to give himself a “new target to pursue,” which is his Foundation and the Sharks. He’s also thinking of going back to college since he left school at 17, and didn’t have a chance to finish high school. He thinks that “going back to training my brain is very important.”

Fears of playing in the NBA (16:58)

– “I’m scared when I was coming over to the United States.” He had heard how physical the league was, it sounded like it was “wrestling on the court,” and that he might have gotten hurt in a very short time.
– When he was at the Shanghai airport about to leave for Houston, he was strongly tempted to turn around and go back to the Sharks. “I’m not going to lie and say I liked the challenge” but “I know when I put myself in that position, I would like to do that job.”
– Kelvin Cato, his former teammate, was a very physical player to practice against, both physically and mentally.
– The Rockets had a Chinese professor from the University of Houston help him transition to life in the U.S. “I think she did well…after awhile, I become like one of them. It didn’t take long.” (laughing)
– He talks about when he first met Colin Pine, his translator, at the airport.
– He started learning English around the 10th grade, so he had studied it for 10 years before coming to the U.S. But it wasn’t normal, everyday English that you would use in the U.S. He did learn “basketball English” though, like ‘pick-and-roll,’ etc.
– He wanted an interpreter the first two years since he was afraid he wouldn’t understand reporters’ questions and he didn’t want to give the wrong answer back to them.
– It was embarrassing when he scored no points in his NBA debut.
– Even backup players in the NBA can be good teachers.
– Before his breakout game against the Lakers when he scored 20 points, he had scrimmaged with his Rocket teammates at the UCLA facility and scored the last few baskets to help the 2nd team (the team he was on) beat the first team. He knew then that he was on the verge of breaking out (which he did shortly thereafter).
– He doesn’t like the “Yao Ming” song at all. It was too repetitive, and he tries to keep himself low-key. When he heard the song while he was playing, he just told himself to focus.
– His favorite commercial he did was the Apple one with Mini-Me.
– When things got hectic with off-the-court responsibilities, he ultimately found his peace on the basketball court.

Yao Ming on Shaq: He makes you lose sleep (3:03)

– He wasn’t nervous the first time he played Shaq because he didn’t know what to expect, and he wasn’t going to stress out about it. But he got nervous before he played him the second time because he knew how strong and powerful he was.
– He has a photo of himself and 5’5″ Earl Boykins trying to block each other out after a free throw attempt, and both of them are wearing #11 on their jersey. He thought that had to mean something.

21 and Frustrated (3:43)

– When he learned he couldn’t come over to the U.S. and play in the NBA in 2001, he was pretty frustrated (he had to wait until 2002).
– He knew the CBA (China Basketball Association) wouldn’t stop him from going to the NBA in 2002.

The Pressure Playing for Chinese Pride (4:15)

– Yao talks about the pressure he faced representing China on the basketball court, but he didn’t let it get to him, but it did motivate him.
– The movie theater is only 300 meters from his house, but he can’t go to it because he would be swarmed by fans When he does go out, he tries to go out at night.
– If he could be anonymous for one day, he would just want to walk the streets of Shanghai with his daughter and wife and do normal stuff like go get ice cream.

Inside Yao Ming’s China (5:49)

– They show video of Yao’s first home, school, and basketball playground. Yao recounts his memories of those places. He talks about missing his first shot when he was a kid, which was unexpected from his friends because they knew he was the child of two parents who had played basketball professionally in China. He went back to that same playground in 2004 when the Rockets were playing a preseason game there. He took his coach Jeff Van Gundy with him, and the first time he tried to shoot the ball (child-size), he missed again! Van Gundy made fun of him, telling him “Some things never change.”
– They show a video and talk about the facility where he practiced as a young professional and a Shanghai Shark for 8 years starting in March 1994 when he was only 14 years old. They also show the Internet cafe he used to visit, one of the few places where he could go and relax after practicing, and the arena where the Sharks played.

Racial slur mix-up (7:25)

– You’ll have to watch this one to hear what it’s all about!
– His favorite American slang word is “Yo,” and his favorite American food is Philly cheese steak.
– In China, when you say “cheers” with a drink, you’re supposed to drink it all right there. That gets you drunk pretty fast.
– He likes video games because the person you’re playing doesn’t know who you are. He still plays World of Warcraft. But he doesn’t really have much time to play those games any more.
– They talk about his experience with cars in the U.S.

Moving in with my parents at age 22 (3:45)

– Living with his parents his first few years in the NBA wasn’t difficult. He wanted a safe place and someone he could talk to.
– He laughs about he bought his first home in Houston before he even got his first paycheck. Kind of risky. The only thing he didn’t plan on was how it took an hour drive to get to the arena.
– He likes his house to be next to water since it’s more peaceful.

Is he injury prone? (5:13)

– He thought in 2009 if they had been able to beat the Lakers (he got injured during this series), he thinks they had a pretty good chance to win the championship.
– He thinks his weight (which he couldn’t change) and the high arch in his foot put alot of stress on his navicular bone because there is not much blood supply to it if he gets injured.
– Yao describes the surgery he had to reconstruct his foot. They had to break his big toe so his foot could better take the stress. The surgery took about 5 hours. He didn’t want to use painkillers too much, but he did a couple of times.
– He said if he had gotten more free time to rest, it probably would have helped him. But his Chinese national team commitment is not something he could have “gotten rid of.” When he wore the Chinese jersey, he felt like it was a shield and that it made you invincible.

Yao Ming’s favorite basketball moments (5:25)

– The game against Slovenia in 2006 in the World Championships was one of his most memorable games when China won on a buzzer-beating shot. Also, the game that got the Rockets into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in years, and the victory that got the Chinese National Team in the Olympics.
– When he was carrying the Chinese flag into the Beijing Olympic stadium, he could feel the 1.3 billion Chinese people he was representing.

I’m deaf in one ear (12:32)

– When he was 8 years old, he had a fever for about a week, and they found out there was a problem with his kidneys. He had some allergic reactions to penicillin.
– They talk about the attention he got after he was born because his parents played basketball, as well as the decision his parents had to make in sending him to a sports academy versus an academically focused one. His parents let him go to the sports academy because he wanted to go there.
– He would never go back to the schedule he had where he had to train 8-10 hours per day. He goes into detail about the schedule he had in the academy.
– Playing basketball wasn’t as much fun at first, but started getting more fun as time went by. He thought of quitting because it was so time-consuming and he had other interests, but his mother told him if he quit, he would have to come back home, and he didn’t want to do that.
– It used to be about how big you were, but the Chinese are aware they need to find smaller players who can handle the ball, shoot the ball with a quick release, etc.
– He thought 1997 was his breakout moment in a national game in Shanghai.

Training in the NBA is a science (6:40)

– In the CBA, their training program is not that great. It’s just very basic.
– In his first year under Jeff Van Gundy, he tried to get Yao to become more physical. Not get around something, but go through them.
– He didn’t mind the drudgery of repetition. He actually enjoyed it because every time he did it, it would help him, and he enjoyed the sound of the ball going through the net and the squeak of his shoes on the floor.
– If he went more than a couple of days without playing basketball, he got a little itchy.
– He learned to shoot from a chair in China to improve the arch on his shot.

Yao Ming’s mission to educate children in China (6:02)

– You can do little things every day to make a difference instead of doing one big thing, and then taking the rest of the year off.
– Over the past three years his Foundation has helped build 7 schools in rural western China. Each school has about 200 kids. Five more schools should be completed this year.
– It’s easier to work on his Foundation in China than it is from the U.S.

Yao Ming on his new baby (3:02)

– It’s very exciting to have a new baby. It’s so different.
– We want her to let her choose her own future.
– His wife has always been someone he could lean on.

“China is changing” (4:05)

– 30 years ago it was unheard of for someone to be able to make a million dollars per year, or per month. It used to be that everyone needed to make the same.
– The biggest area of improvement needed is with inflation. China has limited resources.

Yao reportedly to retire

Friday, July 8th, 2011
by John

Just got the news this afternoon that Yao Ming reportedly will be retiring. More info here at the Houston Chronicle.

Part of this isn’t a surprise, but part of it is. That’s because I thought he would at least wait until he could start training again, and with the lockout and NBA work stoppage looming for next season, he probably could have bought himself another 14-15 months before REALLY having to decide.

Perhaps after a year off and training, maybe there’s a chance he could make a comeback.

Oddly, because of the lockout, NBA.com nor any of the NBA team sites have photos of current players on their sites. So Rockets.com probably won’t have photos of Yao to commemorate his time with the team, until at least his retirement papers are officially filed with the NBA league office.

And because Yao is in China, there will probably be no press conference. It’s fitting that Yao, who never wanted to bring attention to himself, will have his career fade off into the sunset without any fanfare.

Shaquille O’Neal, who retired himself a few weeks ago, made the following statement:

“Yao will definitely be missed. He is in my mind one of the best centers ever to play. He is the one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of China, and I will miss him.”

On this page is a short video that Shaq posted telling Yao, among a few other things, “Let’s go on vacation, bro’, me and you.”

Here is a good tribute from Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Dwyer, and another one from Truehoop’s Henry Abbott.

As far as the future of YaoMingMania.com is concerned, we plan to continue running this site as always because of Yao’s influence that transcends sports. If you want to keep tabs on Yao news in the future without having to revisit this site, make sure to follow us on Twitter.com/yaomingmania and on Facebook.com/yaomania.

Yao visits elementary school today; ankle is healing well; would like to play in Houston next season

Thursday, May 19th, 2011
by John

Yao visited an elementary school in Houston today to make good on a commitment he made for an auction from the Tux & Tennies Gala. Lucky first-grader Jackson Loyd’s parents won the auction to have Yao visit Jackson’s school today.

May 19, 2011 - Yao Ming visits an elementary school in Houston as part of a commitment he made for a Tux & Tennies charity auction

Click here and here for more photos from Yao’s visit at the school (courtesy Houston Chronicle).

Yao also told a Chronicle reporter today that he had a checkup on his ankle Wednesday, and the report is positive that the stress fracture is healing properly. Yao said he doesn’t know yet if he will be able to play next season, but will know more by August or September.

Currently, Yao said he is able to do some light jogging and weight lifting. If he can play next season, he would like to play in Houston.

“I’d like to be here. Nowhere else is better than Houston for me right now.”

Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander and GM Daryl Morey have expressed an interest for Yao to return if he’s healthy.

Yao voted as an All-Star, thanks fans

Friday, January 28th, 2011
by John

As you may already know, it was announced yesterday that Yao Ming was voted by the fans as the starting center for the Western Conference All-Star team, his eighth time in nine seasons. Of course, Yao won’t be able to play because of his stress fracture and ankle surgery, but he did make this announcement yesterday:

“It’s always an honor to be voted in as a starter for the All Stars Game by the fans. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me as I continue to rehab from my surgery.”

Injured All-Star players are expected to attend All-Star game activities, but Yao has been granted a waiver. NBA spokesman Tim Frank stated yesterday, “Yao’s doctors have informed the Rockets and us that he should not travel and therefore he will be excused from attending All Star.”

Report: Yao not ready to retire

Sunday, January 9th, 2011
by John

Raymond has translated in the forum an interview of Team Yao member Erik Zhang Mingji that appeared today in the Chinese online publication called Netease (a.k.a. 163.com). Click here for the full translation.

Here is a summary from the article based off Zhang Mingji’s responses to questions:

Yao’s surgery to repair the stress fracture in his left ankle was a relatively simple operation. It involved simply an implant of a stainless steel pin to facilitate the recovery of the fracture of the bone. Doctors had suspected that this current fracture was caused by bone spurs. So during this surgery, some large bone spurs were removed from the joint cavity. This further confirmed that the bone fracture could have been caused by these bone spurs.

Yao Ming has no plans to retire. He is still not yet ready to do that, and does not see the injury as being that serious to the point that he needs to retire.

Yao Ming wants to stay in Houston, and Houston also has that inclination.

The possibility of Yao being traded this season is less than fifty percent (50%), unless the Houston Rockets can now find a young All-Star player.

The full translation is here.

Yao has ankle surgery, still unsure about his future

Friday, January 7th, 2011
by John

Yao had surgery on his left ankle to repair the stress fracture there. Here’s an article from the Chronicle that explains it all. Here’s the statement that came from Yao today:

“I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support. I know this will be another long rehab, but I’m looking forward to beginning my recovery. I will use this time to consider all of my options and will make a decision regarding my career plans as I get closer to the end of my rehab.”

Get well soon, big fella.

Yao reportedly tells Hakeem he will give his “best try” in coming back

Saturday, January 1st, 2011
by John

Sohu Sports (in China) is reporting that Yao had a chat with Hakeem Olajuwon in the hallways of Toyota Center after the Rockets-Raptors game Friday night (see photo below).

December 31st, 2010 - Yao Ming and Hakeem Olajuwon talk in the hallways of Toyota Center after the Rockets-Raptors game
Click here for more photos of Yao and Dream together in the hallway of Toyota Center.

Hakeem told Yao that he would really like for him to come back, and Yao said he will give his “best try,” which is great news for Yao fans!  Although it’s not a guarantee that Yao will come back, he obviously hasn’t ruled it out and seems intent to make a go of it.  Here’s the transcript of what Sohu Sports published, translated from Chinese to English by our friend Raymond:

Sohu Sports: Talk to us about Yao Ming’s injury; (they said) that may end his career.

Olajuwon: That’s really very very disappointing, because I know he really wanted to continue playing the game. I just talked with him; I aked him to continue his efforts, to give it another try, and see if he can come back to play as well as to maintain a positive attitude. He said he will give his best try.

Sohu Sports: So what do you think Yao Ming has brought to this team ?

Olajuwon: You should know the answer; they really need him. He can make the team even better, a huge difference. It’s really very frustrating to see him go through such an injury. He must continue to strive hard for a comeback.

Sohu Sports: Do you think he can come back to play the game?

Olajuwon: Yes, I firmly believe so. He’s a man of strong character.

Click here for the Sohu Sports story written in Chinese.

Hakeem was at the game to promote the launch of his new clothing line called “Dr34m.” Click on this link (same as the link below the photo) to see Olajuwon signing autographs for fans who bought some of his new designs that went on sale Friday night at Toyota Center.

Yi Jianlian was “very upset” about Yao’s injury, and other quotes

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
by John

This Washington Post article has some good quotes from the Wizards’ Yi Jianlian about his thoughts on Yao’s latest injury. When asked about his reaction when he first heard about it, he said:

“I was very upset about it.”

Asked if he would like to see Yao play again, Yi responded:

“I hope so. I really hope so. Me, all the fans in China, we really hope that he gets back on the court.”

About Yao coming back:

“People always talking that he may not come back. But I think for a player like him, he has a pretty strong heart. It would be tough. I don’t think he’ll just walk away, you know. He’ll leave it alone, let it get healthy, see how it goes. But he’s got to take care of his foot and get everything well.”

Great articles on ESPN.com about Yao and the Rockets

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
by John

Michael Wilbon has posted a great article on ESPN.com you should check out here titled, “Can’t overestimate Yao Ming’s impact.” Here’s an excerpt:

It’s easy to forget, now that he’s been so absent the last two years, that Yao Ming was once an iron man. The career obituaries that detail all the games missed in recent seasons and various injuries to his feet and legs tend to not mention that Yao played all 82 games his rookie year in the NBA, all 82 games his second season and 80 his third season.

The latest injury, the one that will force Yao to the sideline for the rest of this season and threatens to end his career, has prompted more conversation about what might have been had he stayed healthy and, sadly, not enough about the enormous contribution he made to basketball.

Read the rest here.

In case you missed it, a couple of days ago John Hollinger posted this article titled, “Post-Yao Rockets already here.”

Rockets grind up Grizzlies; transcript of presser with Rockets’ GM and team doctor on Yao

Saturday, December 18th, 2010
by John

I went to the Rockets-Grizzlies game Friday night, which was a blowout the Rockets won going away 103-87. It wasn’t even that close as the Rockets got off to a hot start, opening up an incredible 30-point lead early in the second quarter. Kevin Martin was incredible, scoring 22 points in the first quarter. Kyle Lowry scored 15 points and had a career-high 16 assists, along with 5 steals through 3 quarters.

Of course, the big news was the announcement today that Yao is done for the season, which is no surprise, and the press conference the Rockets had before the game with Rockets’ team doctor Dr. Walter Lowe and Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey.

Rather than spend time writing about the blowout victory, I went ahead and typed up the press conference transcript the Rockets provided the media before the game. Here are some quotes that didn’t appear in some of the major news stories about the press conference.

Dr. Walt Lowe:

On the likelihood that Yao Ming can play again without future stress fractures: “I think that’s a question that doesn’t have an answer. Probably. A stress fracture, as you guys know, has to heal and the thing about this is different is this is related to an injury fairly recently and so I think that’s a question that just doesn’t have an answer.”

On talking to Yao Ming about the injury: “We’re saying ‘Hey Yao, you know, this needs to get treated.’ We’re talking to the foot and ankle guys about getting it treated and about the appropriate courses with that. So it needs to get treated. It needs to heal. It needs to be rehabbed right, brought back right, all those things. Is this something that I would say, hey, you’ve got no chance of every playing again, no, absolutely not.”

On what needs to be done to heal Yao’s injury: “Well, the usual case with this would be surgery. It’s a stress fracture and its in a location that the typical course (would be surgery). Has that decision been made yet, no. But the usual medial stress fracture is one that you would fix (with surgery).”

On if this year’s injury is a result of last year’s injury: “Well, last year was an osteotomy of his foot to make it flatter and help distribute the stresses more. But, I think you have to say, yeah, this is related to the previous issues Yao has had with his foot and the surgeries he’s had.”

More details on last year’s surgery relating to this year’s injury: “Well, it is a transfer of stresses that this big osteotomy moved his heel bone around to shift them into a different place and now his body has to take those new stresses to a new area. So, anytime they do something to change it or you see something else come from it, I don’t see any way you can say it’s not related to it.”

On if this will increase the likelihood of future stress fractures on Yao’s foot: “Well, when you look at the course of Yao’s career, stress fractures have been a part of his foot. To say he’s not at a risk to continue to have stress fractures would be crazy. So he is at a continued risk. The new position of his foot should unload his foot and make those stresses lower. We still have this injury back in Washington as a part of this injury to factor into it.”

On if this new injury needs “restructuring” surgery like his previous injury from last year: “No. No, this is a fracture that’s not displaced, so it’s still anatomically located and it’s one to provide fixation so it won’t displace and at the same time create a healing response inside that fracture, so it will heal. So it’s not a corrective osteotomy or moving his foot around, it’s just fixing it where it is.”

On how bad this stress fracture really is: “I don’t think there’s any word for it. I think no one is happy that Yao has any stress fracture for sure. At the same time if you ask me is this better or worse than having another navicular stress fracture, I’d say I’d rather have this one than that one. There have been stress fractures that guys have come back from in this league, too.”

On if this injury was already present when Yao was injured back in Washington: “I think it’s manifested itself since then. This was sort of an ankle sprain with bone bruising it sounds like. The MRI done up in Indianapolis, then brought back here and then really not progressing from a rehab standpoint which stimulated the new studies done yesterday that revealed a stress fracture.”

On if the fracture was hidden by the bone bruise: “You know it should not. A bone bruise is basically fluid or adema in bone and you can see fracture lines in that adema and you see those all the time with fractures. So, I don’t think it’s somewhat fluid in the bone obscured the fracture at all, you would see that.”

On if this fracture occurred sometime between the two MRIs: “Well, it manifested itself as a stress fracture, so it progressed to the point between the two MRI’s, yes.”

Daryl Morey

On if he is concerned about Yao ever returning: “Well, I think, as the doctor said, this is an injury that players come back from. We’re still gathering data to know on the likelihood and the prognosis. I think that’s something we’re still learning. I think it is too soon to know where we go from here, exactly, with Yao Ming.”

On how it will affect his plans this season without Yao Ming: “Well, I think , overall we’ve been preparing for this possibility, obviously as doctor said and we’ve talked to Dr. Lowe and Dr. Clanton and all the folks. Also Dr. Yazuki, close to working with Yao Ming. We’ve obviously known he’s (Yao Ming) been prone to possible future inures. So, as you can tell in our preparation, our signings, our trades, our draft picks. We’ve prepared a team to sort of work with Yao Ming and work without, both at a player level and mentality level. I think we have a very resilient group. They’ve been able to fight through injuries and have had winning seasons without both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady last year. This year obviously we’re gonna have Yao Ming for mostly not this whole season. We feel like we have a resilient group to work for guys that can fight through injuries and we feel like we’ve got a young team that each day they play, they’re better than the day before. Not a team that’s declining but a team that’s improving.

Dr. Lowe:

On if there is any way Yao may not need surgery: “Sure. Stress fractures do heal with prolonged periods of unloading and crutches and non-laboring and those kind of things. So I think those things all have to be debated with Yao and sort of go through the whole process like you would with anybody that needs or should have a surgical procedure. I’d say yes, there’s a potential it would, but the likelihood that fixing it would lead to more certainty in it healing and also much quicker.”

On if this injury has any acute issues with it: “No, this definitely has no acute issues associated with it. So, I think there’s plenty of time to get all the bright minds of foot and ankle in the country together and look at it and talk to Yao and come up with a course of treatment that his doctors and Yao both believe in.”

On what kind of rest Yao should take after this injury: “I’m not the foot and ankle guy, which is okay. But, at the same time I do think the suggestion or the usual course of action for this particular stress fracture, which is a vertical fracture through the medial malleolus is that it would be fixed. I think that’s the smartest course of action. I’d put it in one of those 4-6 month recoveries. For a stress fracture to heal completely, it should take that 3-4 month period, and then there’s, as you saw with some other things in Yao, a very slow, progressive return to higher and higher unloading. So, that’s for sure in that 4-6 month window after it’s fixed.

On what Yao’s rehab would look like: “In the foot there’s not a lot of rehab. It’s range of motion, strengthening of the tendons that surround it, so it’s not as complicated of a rehab as a knee or a shoulder or some of the things you guys see fairly frequently out there. What has to happen in the foot is healing because the foot is skin, bones and tendons, so it doesn’t have a lot of muscles surrounding it. Those things that lead to a more vibrant healing anatomy. So you have to let it heal. You have to keep the motion. You have to get the swelling down. Then after the healing is there, you have to progressively load. That means there’s partial weight bearing, then more weight bearing, the same process you guys have seen him go through before. There’s not a cookbook protocol that says after this fracture you do this on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. It’s a very progressive loading and the bigger the guys are, the more issues there have been with stress fractures or related issues, the slower you would go in that progressive loading process.”

Daryl Morey:

On Yao’s future: “I think until we learn more, we still see Yao Ming as the potential future of our team. We need to continue to talk to the doctors and see where that goes. So obviously Yao Ming is an All-Star center and if you look throughout the league, there’s not many of them. If it looks like there’s a good prognosis here and we’re still learning how good that prognosis will be, for sure we’re going to look at Yao Ming past this season.”

On Yao’s spirit: “I think he’s appropriately taking a step back and saying I want to hear all of my options and all the facts. That hasn’t happened yet. Doctors like Dr. Lowe, Dr. Yakuzi, Dr. Clanton, they’re all still conferring and he’ll get multiple opinions before he takes a course of action. I think he’s obviously taking the news hard just like we are, just like Rockets fans, just like everybody. I think for those who know Yao Ming, like many in this room, when there’s tough news, he sort of cracks jokes and things like that. He was doing that yesterday. He’s in good spirits. I think obviously when he’s not around others I’m sure it’s pretty tough to digest this news. As much as he’s been off the court and how much he cares about his teammates, the fans and the Rockets, it’s probably pretty tough for him.”

On how big of a setback this is for the Rockets: “Well, I think we’ve been, as we’ve said, preparing for this as well as we can. I think you need great players in this league to win. We’ve got a lot of players we believe in on this team. Yao Ming is very unique. There’s no Yao Ming store that we can go to to get another one with his abilities. So, it’s definitely a setback. It’s definitely a setback that we don’t have him this season. We felt like this season, where we could make this a special season was Yao Ming comes back and people step up on our team. Maybe there was a move that’s made and felt like we could really make some noise this season. We still feel like we’re a team that can make the playoffs this season. We feel like we’re fighting with about 4 or 5 other teams for the 7th or 8th seed this season. I know our guys in the locker room aren’t writing this season off. I know I’m not. I know Coach Adelman isn’t. We still think this can be a great season. Obviously the news yesterday was negative, it wasn’t positive.”