By Albert Leung, Staff Writer

China’s greatest basketball player, Yao Ming, is making monumental strides again in professional basketball. The 7-foot 6-inch player is attempting to return to basketball form after suffering a career-threatening foot injury two seasons ago, which prevented him from playing a single game all of last season.

By Albert Leung, Staff Writer

China’s greatest basketball player, Yao Ming, is making monumental strides again in professional basketball. The 7-foot 6-inch player is attempting to return to basketball form after suffering a career-threatening foot injury two seasons ago, which prevented him from playing a single game all of last season.

Previous to his injury, Yao was reaching the pinnacle of his talents as he took his Houston Rockets into the 2008 Western Conference semifinals. Yao was already playing with a hairline fracture in his foot which he sustained a season before that caused him to miss 33 games. This latest injury, however, resulted after he landed on his foot awkwardly and caused a stress fracture in the left foot. After a CT scan the following day, doctors informed him the injury would require surgery to fix and extensive therapy to heal.

It’s been over a year now since Yao has participated in NBA action. At 30-years-old, many are wondering if Yao can and will be able to return back to dominant form or whether he will merely be a shell of his former all-star self.Yao_Ming

So far in this current NBA preseason, Yao has seen limited action as the team starts to ease him into action again. He has averaged only 14 minutes of play during the preseason. Rockets coaching staff has said that they plan, at most, to play their lengthy center about 24 minutes a game when the official season kicks-off.

Recovering from such injuries and surgeries are not unheard of in the NBA. Former Cleveland Cavalier and current Miami Heat big-man Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a similar injury and surgery procedure done back in the 1999-2000 season. Since then, the 7-foot 3-inch center has made a full recovery and has been a major contributor to Cleveland’s success the past few seasons while playing alongside LeBron James.

As for Yao, the road to recovery has only just begun and there are still a lot of mental and physical roadblocks to conquer, which he admitted to during an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

"It's still a little bit [of a concern for] me, honestly," Yao said. "I get into [physical situations with] a lot of guys in a small area. I'm a little bit afraid people will step on me or I will jump in the air to try to get a rebound and land on somebody. That gives me a little to worry about. That goes slightly away day-by-day.

"I have a size 19 foot. That happens. I step in the paint; a quarter of the paint is full. Honestly, I already got a couple in the China Games. You see me fall on the ground. It was not because I really fell. I stepped on people's feet and shifted the stress. I was rolling my body on the ground to shift my weight."

In perhaps Yao’s most trying season in his career, it is hard to know what we should expect out of the Chinese basketball phenom. Certainly the whole of China and its 1.3 billion inhabitants will be tuned in each Houston Rockets game to witness his progress throughout this year. For interested fans in Minnesota, though, the Houston Rockets will play in the Target Center twice this year on Jan. 24 and April 13, 2011.

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