Yao Ming elected president of Chinese Basketball Association
BEIJING, China (AP):
Yao Ming has moved into management in a bid to hasten China's basketball development.
The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) voted unanimously to appoint the former Houston Rockets star as its president on Thursday, in a step towards reform for an organisation which has in past been led by government bureaucrats.
The CBA's social media account quoted the Hall of Famer as saying he hoped to make improvements to the domestic league's draft system and push more Chinese players into the international arena.
In comments after the vote, Yao said he would introduce scientific training methods to Chinese clubs, improve the tactical education of players, and forge exchanges with leagues in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
"Our next move will be to borrow from international advanced experience, to thoroughly study China's actual conditions and carve ourselves a path of innovation," Yao said. Reforms would cover all aspects of the game in China, from the national team to youth programmes, he said.
Yao, 36, was one of the first Chinese athletes to become an international household name when the Houston Rockets drafted him with the first pick in 2002. The 2.29-metre (7-foot-6) centre played for eight seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2011, citing chronic injuries.
ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME
A two-time Olympian, the Shanghai-born Yao was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2009, he purchased the Shanghai Sharks, his former CBA team.
Over the past decade, NBA stars such as Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady, J.R. Smith and Gilbert Arenas have spent one or more seasons playing in the CBA as the league grew in prominence. But Chinese sports fans say the league could be made stronger still, and their country's basketball talent pipeline remains underwhelming despite the sport's grass-roots popularity.