Yao Ming Out of the Olympics?

The most dominant big man in the history of China led the Houston Rockets to 12 wins in a row. He was averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. But, Yao Ming’s NBA playoff hopes are over, and his Olympic ambitions are now in jeopardy.

The center has a stress fracture in his left foot, and will miss the rest of the season and the playoffs. His status for the Beijing Olympic games is unknown, but the Rocket’s team physician expects he will be ready to compete in the games.

Henry Abbott of ESPN’s TrueHoop says the injury will test the NBA’s relationship with Chinese officials:

The relationship between the NBA, the Houston Rockets, and the Chinese government figures prominently in any and all matters Yao Ming. Even picking him first in the draft was not simple. Now, with Yao Ming slated to be the superstar showpiece of perhaps the most important sporting event in China’s recent history — the 2008 Beijing Olympics — there must be a hundred new ways these international relationships can be tested. With something this bad having happened, there will be blame to spread around, and future questions to work out. Will Yao Ming be ready to play in the Olympics? Whose decision will that be? Are the Rockets prepared to let the Chinese team make that call? And what about next season — now that China’s national basketball treasure has injured himself repeatedly Houston’s watch (he has also had a broken tibia) might there be concerns about his returning to the NBA at all?

Ming will hold a 6:15 p.m. (CDT) press conference today to discuss the injury.

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