Yao targets next season for NBA return

In this May 8, 2009, file photo, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming (11), of China, sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of a second-round Western Conference NBA playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Houston. Yao will have surgery on his broken left foot next week and the team says he may not be available until the training camp before the 2010-11 season. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

December 18, 2009 2:05:54 PM PST
Yao Ming says he is recovering well after foot surgery and hopes to return to the NBA by next season. The 7-foot-6 Houston Rockets center who is out for the season after having surgery in May says Friday "I'm definitely recovering and the recent results of my checkups allowed me to make this long trip back to Shanghai from the U.S."

Attending an event to mark the launch of a public service announcement about protecting sharks by the San Francisco-based conservation group WildAid, Yao said, "I might be completely recovered by next season."

Yao has said he wants to allow enough time for his bones to fully heal following the operation to repair a hairline fracture in his left foot.

Yao has been a spokesman for WildAid since 2006.