End of Yao wows hometown
The buzz in Shanghai this week centers on 2.29-meter Shanghai-born Yao Ming and recent news reports of the basketball superstar's retirement.
Although Yao’s Chinese agent, Zhang Mingji, has denied the reports, saying Yao hasn't officially submitted a retirement request, the public reaction in China has been overwhelming.
Zhang said Yao will respond to the retirement news and announce his future plans during a press conference in Shanghai on July 20. Read more at CNN.
That's a long time to wait for some in the city desperate to find out what lies ahead for China's most famous athlete.
Here's a sampling of what locals are saying about the possible end of the playing career of China's most famous athlete.
Name: Zhou Aying
Occupation: City volunteer
"Yao’s retirement will make a lot of difference.There might be a plunge in the audience ratings of NBA games in China. Many sports brands, such as Peak, are banking their marketing on collaborating with NBA stars. Since Yao does draw Chinese people’s attention to NBA, these brands will be impacted as well.
"Once he leaves, things change. But I really hope he can come back to China and to improve China’s basketball team with his experience from overseas."
Name: Jonathan N. Givelin
Home country: United Kingdom
Occupation: Senior manager
"I was not quite shocked when I first heard the news. He has had a couple of injuries before. And he is not young anymore. Perhaps it is time.
"I do hope he can expand his business empire and build his own brand. It is definitely good for China if he comes back and starts coaching."
Name: Wang Mingshan
Occupation: Newspaper vendor
"I was one of the first people to know the news because of what I do -- dealing with newspapers all the time. It is quite a pity for me, since Yao is really popular and I really like to watch him play.
"Almost all my customers feel the same way. I have read a few suggestions for Yao’s career after his retirement from different media. It would be perfect if he could coach in the CBA, which I guess is the core value of a basketball player -- to benefit his own country."
Name: Tang Chuanye
Occupation: University student
"I was not shocked at all. I am the biggest fan of Yao myself and know a lot about him. Health issues, family pressures, as well as public attention are all what he has to deal with. Considering all the contributing factors, it is normal for him to retire."
Name: Zhu Jitong
"I don’t know why, but I feel a bit surprised. I like him because he is tall, and I love to watch him in the game. I like Kobe (Bryant), too, but I like Yao better since he is Chinese.
"I really hope he can come back to China and be our basketball teacher."
Name: Zhang Dongxue
Occupation: Shop assistant
"I don’t really get why he suddenly stopped playing, and I felt a little confused when I heard the news from [CNN].
"He is the symbol of Chinese basketball abroad. I really hope he can come back to China, continuing his basketball career or move on to other fields like charity, education and so on."
Name: Gao Songlin
"I guess he has no choice but to quit playing. He has a great influence both in China and abroad, so I hope he can make full use of that, pushing forward the development of basketball in China as a whole.
"As for his career, he always enjoys keeping himself busy, doesn't he? I am pretty sure he will figure it out soon."
Home country: United States
Occupation: Marketing manager
"He hasn’t played in three [seasons] as I remember and he’s got injuries. It’s understandable.
"He is really popular in the U.S. and helps a lot in bringing the NBA spirit back to China. He could consider being a reporter or anchor doing sports commentary for channels like CCTV-5.
"He might even become an ambassador since he is recognizable both in China and in the United States."
Name: Wang Yun
"He has been playing very hard for years, but his health condition doesn’t allow him to play anymore. So I'm not that shocked. I do appreciate the mature system of basketball training in NBA, and hope he could bring some of that back to China.
"Yao is tough, diligent with a global perspective and experience. He has good communication skills and a great personality. Though [I am] not a basketball fan, I like him a lot."
Buzz on the Chinese Internet
“There are two groups of opinion on Yao’s retirement. I found people who support Yao are mainly those who were led into the world of NBA by Yao, which is like the tennis phenomenon brought by Li Na today. However, those criticizing Yao are much more knowledgeable about basketball and the NBA, and are very likely fans of Michael Jordan. So they would compare Yao Min with those legends, and they get disappointed.”
User: Tears of a poet (诗人的泪)
“It’s normal that he would retire. [He] has shown up in quite a lot of commercial events [in China] recent. It’s possible that he will enter the entertainment industry here and be a star. There is no need to keep getting tortured by injuries. [I] believe nobody wants to see his shots being blocked [by the others]…He has made the correct decision.”
“Yao Ming’s retirement is a huge loss to the NBA. A large number of Chinese NBA fans will quit [watching NBA games]. Who is there to replace Yao Ming?”
User: Youjian cuiyan qi (又见炊烟起)
“If not for Yao Ming, few people in China would watch the NBA.”