“I don’t think I can play in the National Games. My contract (with the Rockets) doesn’t allow me though I really want to play (in the Games),” Yao said on Friday.
According to a sports official from Shanghai, Yao’s native city, the Shanghai basketball team and Shanghai Sports Bureau had contacted the Rockets recently on the release of Yao for the Games representing the Shanghai team.
Li Qiuping, head coach of Shanghai Sharks, travelled to Houston last week after a workout camp of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league in Ohio to discuss the issue, but he failed to keep Yao until the Games, which is to set off on October 12 in Jiangsu Province.
For all you Shanghai fans desperately searching for reasons why your native son would abandon you, Shanghaiist can think of 18 million of them off the top of our head. But don’t label Yao Ming a “Chen Yonglin” just yet. The big man represented his country yesterday in a friendly against Iceland in Xi’an. China won 89-51 and Yao scored a game-high 19 points with 9 rebounds in his first game back from ankle surgery. China plays Iceland again Tuesday in Harbin. Yao will also play for China in the upcoming Asian Basketball Championships, which begin on Sept. 8 in Doha, Qatar.
Photo from Tag Heuer.