Yao Ming hasn’t played in a basketball game since last summer’s NBA play-offs but that hasn’t stopped the 7ft 6in giant from making headlines.

Indeed, China is buzzing about the recent announcement that Yao and his basketball-playing wife, Ye Li, are expecting their first baby.

Ye, who married Yao in 2007, is understood to be at home in Shanghai.

Among the hot topics is the potential size of the baby.

Ye stands 6ft 2in and in one online poll in China, most said the child would grow to more than 6ft 8in although one-third of the 29,000 votes predicted a height of more than 7ft 2in.

As for Yao playing at the FIBA World Championship, he’s effectively ruled himself out while he recovers from the operation on his broken foot.

“I cannot catch up in time for the World Championship because I will not be able to get on to the court and start training until July,” Yao said to sohu.com.

Yao says his absence creates an opportunity for others to make their marks.

“I hope this will provide a chance for some of the younger players,” he said.

“As for the (London) Olympic Games, it’s still too far way and hard to predict.”

Yao, 29, has cast such a giant shadow over the game in China that most of his teammates are anonymous by comparison.

“Basketball is a game of unity rather than individualism,” he stressed.

“I hope people pay more attention to the sport and the whole national team rather than one or two individuals.”


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