Six-time All-Star center Yao Ming is out for the season and post-season with a stress fracture in his sore left foot, a blow to the surging Houston Rockets.
Daryl Morey, Rockets Gerneral manager, made the announcement on Tuesday.
Chinese Yao was having one of the best seasons, averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
"It is not an injury we feel he can play with," Rockets team doctor Tom Clanton said. "I've made the recommendation that it be treated surgically and we are working with him to get other opinions just to be certain that that is indeed what should be done."
If Yao chooses surgery, Clanton said, it would involve placing screws across the bone to hold it together. The second option would be to treat it with a cast and crutches. Both options involve a healing time of about four months.
Clanton would not say when Yao could play again, but said Yao is not expected to miss the Olympics in Beijing in August.
"This is unbelievable," Rockets owner Les Alexander said. "This is the most heart-breaking. This is the worst I've felt."