Yao not pursing purchase of Rockets

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[July 22, 2017]  (The Sports Xchange) - At some point the Houston Rockets will be under new ownership but former center Yao Ming will not be involved.

On Friday, the Hall of Fame center ended speculation that he could be involved with a group looking to purchase the team by issuing a statement through China's Xinhua news agency.

"I have no time to consider anything else (including buying the Houston Rockets)," Yao said.

Since retiring from the Rockets in 2011, Yao has been involved with the China Basketball Association, initially as an owner of his hometown Shanghai Sharks. He was elected Thursday as the chairman of the company that runs the league and was named league president in February.

Yao was the first overall pick by the Rockets in 2002. He was an eight-time All-Star and averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in 486 career regular-season games during a nine-year career that was plagued by foot injuries and ankle injuries.

He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 in the same class as Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson.

Yao's statement occurred after longtime owner Leslie Alexander announced Monday he was putting the Rockets up for sale.

The 73-year-old Alexander bought the franchise for $85 million in 1993. Forbes valued the franchise in February at $1.65 billion -- eighth-most valuable in the league -- with revenue of $244 million.

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Yao Ming, a delegate and a former NBA player arrives near the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Alexander had immediate success as an owner as the Rockets won NBA titles over the New York Knicks in 1994 and the Orlando Magic in 1995 behind the play of Hakeem Olajuwon.

Alexander put CEO Tad Brown in charge to "oversee the sales process with the league office, supported by my management team."

Brown made the announcement during Monday's news conference at Toyota Center. He said Alexander told him "it can wear on you after so many decades."

(Editing by Steve Keating in Toronto.)

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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