SHANGHAI, July 20 (Xinhua) -- NBA commissioner David Stern hailed Chinese Yao Ming as a "bridge between basketball fans" in the two countries as the Houston Rockets center announced retirement on Wednesday.
Stern sent a message to Yao's farewell conference, saying: "Yao Ming has been a transformational player and a testament to the globalization of our game,
"His dominant play and endearing demeanor along with his extensive humanitarian efforts have made him an international fan favorite and provided an extraordinary bridge between basketball fans in the United States and China."
The 2.26-meter Shanghai native, who played for eight seasons in the NBA after being the top overall pick in the 2002 draft, has been troubled with a series of injuries.
Yao, who will turn 31 in September, averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds and has been named to the NBA All-star team eight times.
"I want to congratulate him on his distinguished playing career and wish him success as he transitions into the next phase of his life," said Stern.
"We look forward to working with Yao in continuing the growth of the game of basketball in China to which he has already contributed so much."