Yao Ming's expected retirement could diminish the NBA's once-burgeoning popularity in China, with many fans saying they would no longer watch games.
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 Chinese Basketball Association apologized Wednesday for a brawl that forced play to be suspended in an exhibition game against Brazil a day earlier.
The NBA has formed a joint venture with Anschutz Entertainment Group to design and develop multipurpose, NBA-style arenas in major Chinese cities.
Rockets center Yao Ming is back in China to consult with traditional medicine practitioners over his NBA season-ending foot injury.
The NBA has taken a stake in designing and running Beijing's Olympic basketball venue, during and after August's Summer Games.
NBA commissioner David Stern, an architect of the league's push into international markets, is startled at how fast the rest of the world has come along.
China national team officials believe injured center Wang Zhizhi may still be ready to play next month in the world championships.
Yao Ming and China were upset by South Korea 102-100 in overtime of the gold medal basketball game at the Asian Games.