Chinese basketball star Yao Ming has a stress fracture in his left ankle that will further delay the resumption of the Houston Rockets center’s injury-plagued NBA career, his team said on Thursday.
The towering 2.26m center, whose NBA career has been derailed by a series of injuries, has been sidelined since Nov. 10 with what the team had called a bone bruise in the same ankle.
In a terse press release, the Rockets said his latest injury was related to a prior one and was discovered during his rehabilitation.
“There is no timetable for his return at this time,” the Rockets’ statement said. “The team will have no additional comment at this time.”
Yao remained upbeat, telling sports Web site ESPN.com: “I still hope I can come back and play.”
However, in a statement issued through the Rockets, Yao admitted the news was “disappointing.”
“I have been working hard to get back on the court, so today’s news was very disappointing for me,” he said.
Yao, a seven-time All-Star, missed all of last season after -surgery to -repair his broken left foot.
This season the Rockets hoped to keep their big man healthy by limiting him to 24 minutes per game and making sure he didn’t play in back-to-back games.
Even so, Yao was hurt in his fifth game of the season. First diagnosed as a mild ankle sprain, the injury was later said to be an ankle bone bruise.
At the time, team doctor Tom Clanton said in a statement that Yao’s troublesome left foot was “completely healed and the structural integrity of the foot is intact.”
Yao, 30, was the top overall draft pick in 2002, but the 2005-2006 campaign saw the first of many injuries when he broke a bone in his left foot with four games remaining in the season.
In the 2006-2007 season he broke his right leg and missed 32 games, while a stress fracture in his left foot in February of 2008 caused him to miss the postseason.
In 2008-2009, Yao played 77 -regular-season NBA games and had no problems with his foot until the second round of the playoffs, and when that hairline crack didn’t heal he had the surgery that kept him out all of last season.