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NBA: Toenail Injury Sidelines Yao Ming
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Rockets centre Yao Ming is set to miss the beginning of the NBA preseason games after having his left big toe nail removed on Monday.

Yao, who has had a toenail removed three times since 2004, is expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days and will miss four preseason game, including today's opener against Memphis Grizzlies.

The 26-year-old All-star centre bruised his left big toe during training camp session in Austin last Wednesday and opted to have the toenail removed after consulting with the team's medical staff.

"He doesn't remember getting stepped on and I don't think that was the case," Rockets trainer Keith Jones said. "I think it was just that the toe ran into the end of the shoe. We had a doctor see him in Austin. Everyone thought the best thing to do was to remove the nail."

Jones indicated that Yao's injury wasn't serious and that he expected the centre to be healthy for at least part of the preseason.

The centre told on Monday there wasn't any significant pain with his latest injury, but had bleeding under the nail.

"I'm told not to be concerned, but every time something happens, it's a longer prognosis than the previous one," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "My concern is high for Yao's feet in general."

Van Gundy said his options at centre are Dikembe Mutombo, Juwan Howard, Chuck Hayes and Matt Haryasz. He also added that Yao would be back as soon as he could return to the lineup.

"The one thing that I'll say about Yao is that he's tough," Van Gundy said. "He doesn't sit out just because he wants time off. This is not his choice. They just thought the nail was coming off and they wanted to be more proactive in taking it off. But he's going to end up missing two weeks and that's going to have a big impact on Yao and us."

The 2.29-metre centre missed 21 games last season with an injury to his left big toe. He then joined China's national team and led the country to a top 16 finish at the World Basketball Championships in Japan in August after recovering from a left foot fracture happened at the end of last season.

Yao had a tournament-high 25.3 points per game, and ranked fourth on rebounds (9) and second on blocks (2.3).

(China Daily October 11, 2006)

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