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Tuesday , Jul , 19 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Lockout Be Damned: Stern and Fisher MUST attend Yao’s retirement

Yao Ming is likely to make it official on Wednesday, announcing what is expected to be his retirement from the NBA and a sport that made him a household name in China.The 7-foot-6 center for the Houston Rockets played eight seasons in the NBA, but has missed 250 regular-season games over the past six years.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Yao Ming will officially retire from the NBA on Wednesday. Few from the NBA will attend.

SImply put, this is criminal; a travesty, in fact.

Yao opened the lucrative Chinese market for owners. He put billions in their pockets, but won't get so much as a pat on the back, handshake, or $2 'Thank You Card' from Commissioner David Stern.

Yao also won't receive his due from the players –even though those contracts Chinese clubs are currently floating don't exist without the 7-7 center playing his trade in Houston.

The reason is simple: the lockout.

Stern has instituted a code of silence that would put the Sicilian policy of Omerta to shame. Owners can't speak speak publicly. GMs can't comment on personnel matters.

Failure to comply with Godfather Stern will result in the NBA equivalent of sleeping with the fishes: a $1,000,000.00 fine.

Leslie Alexander, the owner of the Houston Rockets, and Daryl Morey, the club's GM, have no desire to meet the fate of Luca Brasi. So they've been mum on Yao cashing his 501k plan. 

However, Stern and his cronies at league head office should push aside their considerable egos; forget about their quest for a flex cap, non-guaranteed contracts, and reduced terms; and let Alexander and Morey catch a flight to China to show Yao love.

If the league can waive their lockout policy for the Dallas Mavericks and Mark Cuban to celebrate at the contrived ESPY Awards (ESPN is a league partner), they can do the same for Yao.

Of course, the Players' Union is not off the hook, either. Yao's international popularity increased league revenues, which, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, must be split with the players.

Derek Fisher can take a break from his role as Union Head and get to China. He's already playing a series of exhibition matches in the Philippines. A flight to China is no big deal; not for Yao.

The lockout is unfortunate. It shouldn't prevent NBA owners and players from honouring Yao's considerable contributions on-and-off court.

--Oly Sandor.

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