Tom Clanton, the team physician for the Houston Rockets basketball team has said the foot injury currently sidelining Chinese center Yao Ming could threaten the seven-foot-six-inch player’s career.
“At this point, the injury has the potential for him missing this next season and could be career-threatening,” Clanton told the Houston Chronicle regional newspaper. “One of the things we are trying to get is a consensus opinion on that, to make certain there is no option we are overlooking that would provide an earlier return or would be an option for treatment that he would prefer rather than doing additional surgery,” he added. Yao fractured his left foot last month during a semifinal match against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Western Conference semifinals and has been visiting specialists ahead of treatment since then.
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Clanton continued: “At this stage, he is having no symptoms or physical signs, he has no tenderness, no swelling, no redness. When he came back in, he was feeling like everything was perfect, and he would start rehabilitation and get ready to play. “The findings on the CT were shocking for him and for us. You don’t treat a CT scan; you treat a patient. We are looking for every reason to treat this on clinical findings but don’t want to put him at risk for a greater fracture,” he added. The diagnosis raises doubt over the playing future of one of the biggest stars in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and one of the most famous celebrities to hail from China. The 28-year-old has been a perennial pick for the NBA All-Star teams since moving from the Shanghai Sharks to the Rockets in 2002. The multi-millionaire athlete also captained his country’s basketball team as hosts at the 2008 Beijing Games, as well as taking the role of flag-bearer for China in the opening ceremony. Yao was awarded the honor of “model worker” in 2005 by China’s ruling Communist Party. The Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, recently said he was committed to building his side around the Chinese import but on hearing the news told the Houston Chronicle: “We are not going to comment until we have all the facts.” If the worst fears about the injury are realized the Rockets could be allowed to break the salary cap to sign a new player under the “disabled player exception.”