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It's back to classes for basketball icon

SHANGHAI'S basketball giant Yao Ming showed up in class at a local university yesterday, intent on slam dunking a bachelor degree.

The sporting icon began three courses at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, with students crowding outside the classrooms, trying to get a glimpse or photograph of him.

Yao's management team said the former NBA All-Star center is studying in the Antai College of Economics and Management at the university and his major is related to economics.

Yao needs to complete 150 credits of study as required by the university before he can get the degree, said Zhang Chi, spokesman for Team Yao.

"The atmosphere of the classes was good - and there's no homework on the first day," Yao told reporters last night.

"It has been more than a decade since I was in a classroom, and the moment I sat down today I just wanted the class to begin."

Yesterday, Yao took classes in basic mathematics, college English and the major issues in modern times.

Even for such a lofty star, Yao admits the academic demands will be a tall order. "My theoretical basis is still weak," he said. "After all, I've been away from education for a long time."

Yao said he will try his best to learn subjects he enjoys and which are helpful for the future.

"I'm not trying to be too utilitarian or just learning for a single purpose," he said. "I want to experience college life and feel fulfilled."

Yao even said he wanted to take part in campus activities and hoped his presence will not destroy the peaceful environment of the campus.

He said he would play some basketball in his spare time for fun, but won't turn out for the college team.

Yao said he would balance studying with his role as the major investor and owner of the Shanghai Sharks Basketball Club.

"There are a lot of people who work while studying for a degree."

"I can do it too," he insisted.


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