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Yao Ming to be drafted by Houston-confirmed!!

541 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Damian Necronamous
By Michael A. Lutz
Associated Press

June 26, 2002

HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets cleared the final hurdle in their quest to select 7-foot-5 center Yao Ming with the top pick in the NBA draft, reaching an agreement with the China Basketball Association.

Erik Zhang, Yao's agent, confirmed the deal was reached early Wednesday morning.

"They will select Yao Ming as the No. 1 pick of the draft," Zhang said.

"He's very excited. It's a major event in his career and his life. I think he's very happy right now. He will be able to compete with the best of the best and he wishes one day to help China win the Olympic medal in basketball."

The CBA, he added, is "obviously sacrificing a lot in letting Yao Ming play in the NBA."

Rockets legal counsel Michael Goldberg said he received a letter early Wednesday morning confirming all the CBA's concerns had been addressed.

"We are looking forward to drafting Yao Ming with the first overall selection in the 2002 NBA draft," Goldberg said. "The fact that we arrived at such a mutually beneficial understanding in such a short period of time illustrates the spirit of cooperation and trust that existed throughout these discussions."

Goldberg said the discussions were successful because the arrangement will benefit both the Chinese and the Rockets.

"The assurances we gave each other was that it's a win-win situation," he said. "They know with training in the U.S., Yao Ming will become a much better player and help their national team. They want what is necessary for the Rockets to win championships here and for China to win championships there."

The CBA joined the Shanghai Sharks, Yao's team, in endorsing Yao for a letter of clearance to play in the NBA next season. That move followed a series of letters from the Rockets pledging to support Yao's intentions to play for the Chinese national team.

As a result, the CBA also promised that Yao will also be available for the Rockets' full season and playoffs.

A possible conflict would be the Asian Games in October, when the Rockets are in training camp. Yao is expected to play for the Chinese national team at the World Championships at Indianapolis in August.

Receipt of a clearance letter from FIBA, the sport's international governing body, is a formality following recommendations from the CBA and Sharks.

That clearance had become the only remaining consideration for the Rockets in their plans to choose Yao with the first pick in Wednesday night's draft.

CBA officials already had announced that Yao would not be in New York on Wednesday when the draft takes place. He'll be training with the national team for a tournament against Yugoslavia, Italy and Australia.

The Rockets could have chosen Yao without the letter of clearance, but would not have known whether he would be permitted to play next season.

AP-CS-06-26-02 1155EDT
Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press
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I knew that they were going to pick him all along.;) :no:
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