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Tuesday August 24, 2010 4:51 PM

The Next Big Step

Yao Ming shows recovery right on track during Toyota Center workout

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

Houston - The big man is on the way back.

Displaying confidence, strength and his trademark dry sense of humor, Yao Ming took to the Toyota Center practice court Tuesday, showing off the progress he’s made during a workout in front of the assembled media. Yao took turns banging bodies in the paint during half-court one-on-one drills with Chuck Hayes and NBA D-League center James Cripe, looking like he’s lost none of the skill that made him such a force in the low-post, while also revealing that conditioning now figures to be the biggest hurdle standing in his way before being declared game-ready.

Upon completion of the workout, a weary but lighthearted Yao declared himself excited with his progress; so much so, in fact, that he contemplated ditching his diet for lunch and treating himself to a cheeseburger.

Jokes aside, Tuesday’s activity served as the latest indication that the 7-time All-Star is well on the road to recovery from the fractured left foot which cost him the entire 2009-10 season. The workout came a day after Rockets Consulting Physician Dr. Tom Clanton revealed that the hairline fracture in Yao’s surgically repaired foot has fully healed.

“Yesterday when I heard the news I feel that, not just me, the entire medical staff including Rockets staff, their efforts in last year all paid off,” said Yao. “I’m just looking forward to playing a great season in 2010-2011 and I think I can count on my foot now.”

Though Tuesday’s workout was Yao’s first in front of the media since his injury, he’s actually been ramping up his rehab for some time now, regularly working out at Toyota Center with the intensity of his on-court basketball activity steadily increasing over the last few weeks. And though there remains plenty of work to do before the big man is comfortable with his conditioning, Yao says he’s already lost nearly 40 pounds over the course of the last 4 months and declared his chances of being ready for the start of the regular season as “pretty good.”

“Conditioning-wise, I’m missing all year from basketball and I’m really not in good shape right now. I’m probably a little bit away from game shape. But the good news is we still have one month to the training camp and 2 months until the season.

“Compared to two months ago, the first time I came running on the court without contact, this is way better. I’m looking forward to the next months, we just need to be patient and keep our process and I think we’ll have a good result.”

WATCH VIDEO OF YAO'S WORKOUT

ROCKETS GM DARYL MOREY DISCUSSES YAO'S STATUS

 

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