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Yao proud to have survived NBA

Standing seven-foot, six inches tall and weighing 140 kilograms it is hard to imagine Yao Ming being afraid of anything, but the Chinese basketball icon, who retired on Wednesday, said he was "scared" after being taken first in the 2002 NBA draft.

other Updated: Jul 21, 2011 23:39 IST
Reuters

Standing seven-foot, six inches tall and weighing 140 kilograms it is hard to imagine Yao Ming being afraid of anything, but the Chinese basketball icon, who retired on Wednesday, said he was "scared" after being taken first in the 2002 NBA draft.

The former Houston Rockets centre, who opened up the world's most populous country to the NBA and became an Asian sporting icon, ended his professional basketball career at a packed media conference in his hometown of Shanghai.

The 30-year-old told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that the prospect of plunging into the most competitive basketball league in the world had shaken him.

"Sometimes you can use the word scared to represent my emotional state at the beginning," Yao said. "The NBA is a place full of talent and before playing there you don't know how small you are, even though I am seven foot six."

"The NBA is the highest level of basketball in the world. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity and have some success in there, and that's enough."

The eight-times All Star was plagued by foot and ankle injuries towards the end of his eight seasons in the NBA. He played just five games in the final two seasons.

"I survived it. That's what I'm proud of," he added when asked if he was frustrated that injuries may have robbed him of a career that was entering its prime. "Man, I just accept it, appreciate what I had and move on."

First Published: Jul 21, 2011 23:33 IST