The rampant reports about Yao Ming's retirement from basketball have drawn a teary response from fans ahead of his upcoming press conference on July 20.
But before the official goodbye, it might be good time to reflect on the success of the "Oriental Giant" and see what legacy Yao can bring to his successors.
Many sports stars from China go international, but Yao Ming is the only one to have gained recognition and popularity both in China and in the US. Even in the US, where there are countless basketball stars, Yao is still able to stand out. In this sense, Yao could be regarded as the greatest athlete in China's history.
Yao was cultivated by the national team and reached to the peak of his career in the NBA.
He benefited from both the hard and fundamental training in China and the professional basketball league in the US. He has given a lot back to both countries.
He is a Chinese image ambassador in the US and has contributed immensely to the development of the NBA in China, making millions of Chinese care for the game. He is the core of the Chinese national basketball team and was also a pillar for the Houston Rockets.
When there is a clash between China and the US, Yao also serves as a bridge between the two countries. Amid his busy schedule of matches, he has actively engaged in social activities and done a lot for charity.
To many, the retirement of the Yao is the end of an era.
Nowadays, China is seeing an increasing number of sportsmen building their own "brand" after being trained in State institutions. This arouses discussion over which training system is better, despite the obvious pros and cons in both systems.
Setting aside the disputes, Yao's success came from a good combination of the two systems. And his recognition also lies in his smart handling of the demands from his home country.
In spite of his personal success, he never shunned his duty to the national team, even though this probably aggravated his injury, according to some analysts.
During his career, Yao has also been questioned about his loyalty to his country, such as when his daughter obtained US citizenship after her birth in 2010.
But his decision to represent China to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics after an NBA season, at the risk of ruining his career due to worsening injuries, won him more respect among Chinese fans.
Yao probably never expected that he would do so much in both China and the US when he first set foot in NBA nine years ago. But his success is a legacy to those who follow.