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Since becoming an NBA superstar, Yao Ming has focused much of his off-the-court efforts on charitable causes, which have included founding his own organization, the Yao Ming Foundation, to help children in the United States and China.|
So Yao’s recent surprise deal to purchase the Shanghai Sharks, the now-troubled hometown team on which he launched his professional career, raises the question: Is he doing it to stay in the game, or taking up another charitable cause?
The Sharks have seen a major decline in fortunes since Yao left for the NBA in 2002. Founded in 1996, the Shanghai Sharks won the CBA championship in the 2001-2002 season, when Yao played a key role on the team. But since he left, the team has fallen in the rankings, finishing next to bottom last season. It has also struggled to survive financially. In January, the state-owned Xiyang Group, a fertilizer maker that was the Sharks’ major sponsor, reportedly pulled back from its five-year sponsorship plan (report in Chinese).
This week, Team Yao, the group that manages the basketball superstar’s career, signed a framework agreement with all three of Shanghai Sharks’ current shareholders to buy their stakes, according to web portal 163.com (in Chinese here). Yao’s purchase was announced through his cousin and agent, Eric Zhang. The Houston Rockets center has been sidelined by yet another foot injury, which could potentially threaten his career as a basketball player.
http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajourna ... wn-basketball-team/