Yao buys Shanghai Sharks

BEIJING -- Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has purchased his financially troubled former club the
Shanghai Sharks, Chinese media reported on Thursday.

The seven-time NBA All Star's investment company signed a
framework agreement with the club's three co-owners who agreed
to sell Yao all their shares in the club, Xinhua news agency

"I grew up in the city and became a professional player in
this team, so I hope I can do something to help," Yao was
quoted as saying on Shanghai TV.

The Sharks tied for the worst deficit in 14 years of the
Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) last year and were in
danger of failing to start the new season in November because
of their dire finances.

The 28-year-old Yao topped the Forbes list of the
wealthiest Chinese entertainers with an estimated income of 388
million yuan ($56.81 million) in 2008.

Running the Sharks will cost about 20 million yuan a year,
according to the China Business News newspaper.

"In consideration of Yao's affection for the team, his
accomplishments in basketball and the experience and vision he
has gained from the seven years in the NBA, we believe he is
the most appropriate person to the take over the team," said
Shanghai Sports Bureau chief Yu Chen.

Yao started playing for the Sharks as a teenager, leading
them to their only CBA title before he left for North America
in 2002.