Yao Ming Retires – Foot and Ankle Injuries Lead to Early Retirement

The dominant Houston Rockets center has recently chosen to retire.  While Yao Ming is a solid 5” taller than his fellow retiring center Shaquille O'Neal, he is 9 years younger.  Very few, if anyone, will deny that Yao’s long list of foot and ankle injuries are leading him to retire when many players his age would continue on.  A top pick in the 2002 draft he helped the Rockets to several Playoff games before more and more injuries decreased his contributions to the team.  This has not caused his popularity to wane. Even after missing the entire 2009-2010 season, he was voted an All-Star for the eighth time!


He played for the Shanghai Sharks for 5 years before joining the NBA.  Yao only missed 2 games in his first 3 years in the NBA.  In 2005, he was sidelined with osteomyelitis, or bone infection, in his big toe. Late in 2006 he broke a bone in his left foot and his knee which kept him off the court for 6 months. 2008 brought a stress fracture to his foot and later surgical intervention.  A year later, a hairline fracture in the left foot kept him out of the playoffs.  While the plan was to limit him to 24 minutes a game this season in hopes to extend his time in the league this year, he only played 5 games of the 2010-11 season before he injured his left ankle. This stress fracture that occurred in December of last year proved to be the final straw.  After 9 seasons in the NBA, Yao Ming announced his plans to retire today.


There have been reports that injuries he received early in his Chinese basketball career may have played heavily into the injuries he continued to have.  Your podiatrist is always looking for the best treatment and healing course for your injury.  Unfortunately, coaches, not doctors, make the decisions for injured players in China. Yao Ming helped introduce US basketball to China.  Hopefully, his story will help Chinese athletics to place more emphasis on player health.


Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!


Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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