BEIJING - Yao Ming and his management team told media Saturday that the Chinese giant star would hold a news conference on July 20 about his "personal future development plan".
He would have only one plan -- retiring.
Sources close to the Houston Rockets' center said Yao had planned to announce his retirement in August, but several American medias released the news on Friday.
Those reports left Yao no room to excape and Zhang Mingji, the director of Yao Team, confirmed the date of the deadline after a series of emails and phonecalls from Shanghai to Beijing with Xinhua.
Yao might make the date of announcing his retirement on Saturday, but his decision had been made months ago.
He played only five matches in the past two seasons and had two surgeries on his left foot, which was broken during the postseason of 2009-2010 and in a regular-season match against the Washington Wizards in 2010-2011.
He was doing his own recoveries in swimming pools during the past two offseasons in China, four hours a day, to prepare a comeback in the NBA.
But he did not jump into the pool again after he came back from Houston in May. He spent most of the summer travelling around China for numerous fund-raising charities and for promotions of the Special Olympic Games.
The two surgeries, which were conducted at the United States, insected a half-kilogram ananomical plates into his left foot to make it hard to keep balance for the 2.26m-high Yao.
He made a trip to Beijing to have a personal meeting with Xin Lancheng, the Vice President of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) two weeks ago. Xin did not release any details of their meeting but source said Yao told Xin about his plan of the future.
The healthy problems forced Yao to make a decision and more and more social burdens are dragging him from the basketball court.
After nine seasons in the NBA, Yao is becoming an icon of the Chinese youth but just a basketball super star.
He averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in his nine-year career in the NBA, and was selected into the starting line-up of the All-Star Game every season, even when he was injured.
The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in China and the viewing rates of the NBA matches on the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) are always the toppest one in the sports channel after Yao joined the Rockets in 2002.
Tons of Yao's teammates, or ex-teammates, in the Rockets had signed endorsement contracts with Chinese companies. Some of them, including All-Star guard Steve Francis, came to play at the Chinese domestic league.
NBA China's CEO David Shoemaker said Yao's retirement would not diminish the league's booming popularity in China.