Yao Ming attends a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 23, 2017. Yao Ming, member of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and former NBA all-star player, was voted as the president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) here on Thursday. (Xinhua/Meng Yongmin)
Yao Ming, member of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and former NBA all-star player, was unanimously elected president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) here on Thursday.
Yao, 37, became the first-ever non-governmental person to take the position at the Ninth National Congress of the association, which was founded in 1956.
"Chinese basketball has a long and bright past. Now the burden is on our shoulders and I feel deeply responsible," said Yao.
"Chinese basketball is based on the need to do good, and we have a great social impact. We also have the best professional league in Asia. That's why we have every reason to believe that as long as we humbly listen to the views from all sides and recruit those who have the enthusiasm, willingness and ability, we are able to complete the self-management, self-improvement, self-monitoring and self-breakthrough of Chinese basketball."
The CBA Charter was also revised at the Congress, making the president the association's legal representative, a position that was formerly secretary-general.
Yao Ming was born in Shanghai in 1980 and began to play in the CBA at the age of 17. In 2002, he led the Shanghai Sharks to their first-ever league championship. In 1998, he was selected to the national team for the first time and played in three Olympic Games, two world championships, one Asian Games and four Asian championships over the course of his career.
As one of China's biggest sports icons, Yao landed in NBA in 2002 as the first-pick of the draft, playing for the Houston Rockets for 9 years and entering all-star games eight times. He also led the Chinese national team to the last eight at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 editions of the Olympic Games.
In 2009, Yao bought the Shanghai Sharks, the CBA club where he played as a teenager. And last year, Yao was elected as the vice president of the newly-established CBA corporation in charge of the league's management and business development.
Since his retirement in 2011, Yao has been pursuing professional basketball reform in China.