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Will Yao's Retirement Affect The NBA Lockout?

Okay, go with me on this one...

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Yao Ming may be retiring, though we won't find out for sure until his press conference next Thursday. Since he hasn't told league officials yet, or that they're not allowed to talk about it because of the lockout, we can't know for sure what Yao's thinking until he actually says one way or another.

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But, multiple reports have come out since then and got a reaction from Chinese fans being devastated by his possible retirement. Heck, even Yi Jianlian was hoping against hope that Yao's not really gone so soon into his career. Both of those things speak to Yao's status as a global icon...or at least a national icon in China, one of the most populous countries on earth.

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Let's follow this out: no Yao in the NBA means all those Chinese basketball fans all of a sudden have much less reason to follow the NBA. That's not only bad for the Rockets, who have benefited quite a bit from that extra overseas interest, but also for the league in general.

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Did I mention that the NBA is also going through a difficult lockout, all based on revenue coming into the league? Yeah, losing the Chinese market would be devastating for owners who are already struggling to make ends meet. Well, some of them are having problems. We think.

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As I mentioned above, things aren't official with Yao. There's always a chance he could "retire" temporarily to get ready for the 2012 Games with the Chinese national team. That's what I'm hoping we'll get more clarity on once Yao holds his press conference next week.

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.