SHANGHAI - Chinese NBA idol Yao Ming's reported retirement decision is surely disappointing but many Chinese still showed their support and understanding for the big guy.
"It would be the end of an era," 22,000 netizens felt this way as shown in a survey titled "How do you look at Yao's reported retirement" on portal Sina.com, which has attracted 125,000 responses as of 11 pm Saturday.
Another 37.6 percent of the respondents chose "Sad, Yao should have achieved more" and 25.1 percent felt "Calm, I see this coming."
Online comments are also flooding in as the news reaches a bigger crowd.
"In China, many fans started watching NBA games because of Yao, "a cell phone network user posted.
"Finally the day comes," said netizen Ji Linghong, "When he boarded NBA, I was a middle school student. He retires, and I become old too."
Yao's former coach in Shanghai, Li Qiuping, felt sorry for Yao. "We all hope he can play for a bit longer. It should have been his prime time at present," Li said.
"His injuries force him to face the reality. If he decided to retire now, I totally understand and there are so many things Yao can do after retirement, such as training teen players," Li said.
Many more people showed their understanding and gratitude for the joy that Yao has brought to fans over the years.
Netizen Zihuyao posted, "Players are under a lot of pressure, from injuries, sports games and fans' expectation. So retirement may provide escape for Yao. Bless you, Yao Ming!"
"He created an NBA era, an era belonging to China," posted Boshilicai. "Thank you Yao Ming."
"I respect Yao's decision. I hope the injury-plagued big guy would not feel regretful," netizen Yuzhe wrote online.
Not just the ordinary Chinese, Yao's abrupt decision also saddened many of his teammates and coaches, who tweeted to share with fans their feelings about Yao.
"I was saddened to hear the news today about Yao Ming announcing his retirement for the simple reason that he loves the game of basketball and he did not get the chance to realize his potential," tweeted Yao's former Houston Rockets teammate Shane Battier. "Yao is one of my all time favorite teammates and people."
Yao's coach at the Chinese national team Bob Donewald said he would pray to keep Yao within the team. "By now everyone has seen the news that Yao has retired. The NBA is losing a great Star!!" he said.
Tracy McGrady, Yao's former teammate and two-time NBA top shooter, felt disappointed by Yao's plan.
"Sad day for the NBA. Sad day for basketball around the globe. My teammate and great friend Yao Ming is retiring," he said.
Yao's unexpected retirement is not the "typical" ending of a hero, who should always hang in there until their last breath.
However, the understanding from the general public shows exactly that China today are more respectful towards individual's rights and interests, said professor Gu Jun from the school of sociology, Shanghai University.
Yao's decision may be a sad one, but it is also a wise decision, since Yao is still young and he should not stick to something at the expense of his health, said professor Chen Shiyi with Chinese Medical Association.