Yao Ming resigns as chairman of the business department of the Chinese basketball league

ESPN News Services May 25, 2023 1:38 am ET2 Minute Read

BEIJING — Former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming has resigned as chief executive of the Chinese Basketball Association Management Company, which runs the CBA’s business arm.

An eight-time NBA All-Star, Yao has led efforts to commercialize the top 20 teams of the Chinese Basketball Association Management Co. since his appointment in 2017.

A notice on the CBA’s website thanked Yao for his service. There was no indication as to the reason for his departure other than that the board had decided it was time for new leadership.

Yao remains president of the Chinese Basketball Association, the national basketball federation in China.

The former Rockets star was one of the first Chinese athletes to make a name for himself internationally when Houston chose him with the first pick in 2002. The 1.90 meter tall center played eight seasons in the NBA before retiring in 2011 due to chronic injuries.

Corruption allegations have dogged the CBA in recent years. Two teams, the Jiangsu Dragons and Shanghai Sharks, were eliminated from the league finals last month after they were found to be unsportsmanlike in a series of turnovers that resulted in the Sharks winning from behind.

The result was judged suspicious, leading to a swift investigation and penalties for both teams. Each team’s managers and coaching staff are banned from the league for up to five years.

China’s basketball and soccer leagues have attracted foreign talent and commercial support but are weighed down by uncertain ownership and government influence. Some officials were under investigation for bribery and other forms of corruption.

Yao’s successor is veteran sportswriter Xu Jicheng, who served on and oversaw committees bidding for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and last year’s Winter Games.

Basketball continues to be popular in China, largely due to Yao’s successful NBA career. This is despite a year-long ban on broadcasting NBA games in the country after a team manager angered Beijing with comments supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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