Houston Rockets five-time All-Star center Yao Ming will miss the first two practices of the team’s training camp in order to participate in the opening ceremonies of the 2007 Special Olympics World Games in his home town of Shanghai, China on Tuesday, October 2. As per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Yao will receive a fine for missing media day and team practices. Yao will join the team for the remainder of training camp immediately following the ceremony.
“This is a difficult situation for both our organization and Yao given the importance of these initial practices,” said Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. “Yao understands the value of being with his team at the start of training camp but considers this a vital obligation. Yao is an extraordinary player who is often asked for extraordinary service to his nation and home city.”
Based on the possibility that Yao may have to play this extremely important role, he has been working extra sessions with the coaching staff in both Houston and China since the season ended to mitigate some of the impact.
“As a Global Ambassador of Special Olympics, I was requested to participate and play a role in the opening ceremony of 2007 Special Olympics World Games in my hometown of Shanghai. I feel it is an obligation that I must meet,” said Yao. “I realize that missing the first few days of camp will put me behind my teammates in learning our new coach’s system, but I will work very hard to make sure that I do not hurt our team’s progress as we prepare for the start of the new season.”