Yao Ming steps down as president of commercial branch of China Hoops League

BEIJING — Former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming has stepped down as chairman of the board of the Chinese Basketball Association Management Company, which manages the CBA’s business arm.

Eight-time NBA All-Star Yao had led the marketing efforts of the Chinese Basketball Association Management Co., comprised of 20 top teams, since his appointment in 2017.

A notice on the ABC’s website thanked Yao for his service. He gave no indication of the reason for his departure other than that the board had determined it was time for new leadership.

Yao remains the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which is the national governing body for basketball in China.

The former Rockets star was one of the first Chinese athletes to become a household name internationally when Houston drafted him with the top pick in 2002. The 7-foot-6 center played eight seasons in the NBA before taking his retirement in 2011, citing chronic injuries.

Allegations of corruption have plagued the ABC in recent years. Two teams, Jiangsu Dragons and Shanghai Sharks, were expelled from the league final last month after being accused of unsportsmanlike conduct during a string of turnovers that culminated in a victory behind the Sharks.

The result was deemed suspicious and prompted prompt investigation and punishment for both teams. Managers and coaching staff from each team were barred from the league for up to five years.

China’s basketball and soccer leagues have attracted foreign talent and commercial backers, but are weighed down by uncertain ownership alignments and government influence. Some officials have been investigated for accepting bribes and other forms of corruption.

Yao’s replacement is veteran sports journalist Xu Jicheng, who served on the bid and management oversight committees for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and last year’s Winter Games.

Basketball remains hugely popular in China, largely because of Yao’s storied NBA career. This is despite a year-long ban on broadcasting NBA games in the country after a team executive angered Beijing with remarks supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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