SHANGHAI, July 20 (Xinhua) -- "I am off the basketball court but I will never be away from the sport," Yao Ming said here on Wednesday at a news conference to announce his retirement.
Yao, turning 31 in September, was not only the towering center of NBA's Houston Rockets, but also the sole owner of Shanghai Sharks where he grew into a national idol.H "I will continue my basketball life with the Shanghai Sharks," said the club boss or Yao Laoban as some fans affectionately called him. "When one door closes, another opens."
Yao took over the club in 2009 when it was in its lowest point, second to the last in the 18-team Chinese professional league and the number of spectators dropping as low as 200 at one time.
The Shanghai native bought the club all the same, despite the unanimous opposition from the Yao team.
"My playing career started with the club. I hope I can do something for it. It is like no one would see their Alma Mater running down without doing anything," Yao once said.
But the role-changing may not be easy for Yao after he carved out a successful career at the NBA as the first draft pick in 2002 and an eight-time All-Star starter in nine seasons.
His good pal and Shanghai team captain Liu Wei almost transferred elsewhere in a falling out with Yao not long after Yao became the boss due to an unsuccessful contract negotiation.
After many efforts, Yao eventually managed to solve the problem and keep his buddy in the team, which
"I am learning to manage the club in new ways. I will bring joy to my hometown," Yao said.