Yao Ming: Foot Injury Could Sideline Yao Entire Season

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News that Yao Ming could be sidelined for the season started to leak out last week during the flurry of activity that often surrounds the NBA draft. Now it appears that the situation could be even more serious than originally anticipated – and the original anticipation was pretty grave.
 
Yao Ming’s broken foot just refuses to heal. He had surgery on the troublesome foot almost exactly a year ago – his fourth surgery on his lower body in the preceeding two years – and three pins were inserted to help stabilize the navicular bone. The same bone cracked again in the 2009 playoffs and you have to wonder how much more can be done.
 
Whether or not you count yourself as a fan of the Houston Rockets, if you love the game of basketball it breaks your heart watching what has happened to Yao over the years. This is a guy who was tracked by the Chinese government since his birth due to the athletic genes of his parents. Talk about pressure! He is probably the most agile and skilled player of his size that basketball has ever seen. Yao carries a lot of weight on his shoulders at 7’6” tall and 310 pounds. All of that pressure pounding on his lower body combined with the pressure not to disappoint his fans on either side of an ocean is taking a terrible toll on the ultimately fragile big man. Five consecutive seasons (counting the upcoming season which has Yao predicted to miss all 82 games) have now been interrupted by injuries to his lower body.
 
There are many moments in Yao’s career that stick out, but personally I think the moment that showed the most about who and what he is happened this year during Game 3 of the Lakers series. Yao was hobbled. He was clearly in pain. The trainers, his coach, his teammates all beckoning him off the court and he didn’t want to sit down. His substitute was on the floor ready to take over and he did not want to come out of the game. Once he finally made his way to the sideline, he broke down in tears. I’m sure he was in pain physically and that probably had a lot to do with his demeanor, but the frustration was painted across his face. He did not want to let his team down. He did not want to concede defeat to the injury or to the stupid Lakers. He felt he was abandoning his team out there and he absolutely hated it.
 
I’m being a girl, I know. Whatever.
 
The injury took Yao out of the playoffs, which must have seemed especially cruel since Houston was enjoying it’s longest playoff run in 12 years and Yao was having his most injury free campaign since his first few seasons. The Rockets must now do the impossible. Finding a backup center was already the top priority, but how do you replace Yao? You can’t. A replacement simply doesn’t exist.

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