Yao Ming carries the distinction of being the only Chinese-born player in NBA history to have finished a successful career. While he was not the first to play in the world’s biggest basketball stage, he definitely earned the most respect. And with that in mind, the former Houston Rockets big man is rightfully going to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Yao Ming will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 7-foot-6 center actually honed his raw basketball skills in the Chinese Basketball Association before eventually deciding to join the NBA Draft back in 2002, where he was selected first overall by the Rockets. It was actually a historic selection because he was the very first international player without experience playing in the US NCAA to be drafted first overall.
Yao Ming was as imposing a player that has ever taken the court. At 7-foot-6, he was a mountain of a man. At that size, it would be fair to assume he didn’t do much work outside the paint, but Yao was extremely versatile on the court. He could play in the post, or on the outside as he had a smooth jump shot despite his size; he was a career 83.3 percent shooter from the foul line.
In a short nine-year NBA career, Yao compiled averages of 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He had one of the prettiest offensive games in the league. He is one of the greatest free-throw-shooting big men of all time. His mere size turned him into a defensive presence. He made the All-Star eight of those nine seasons, but had to force himself to retirement after suffering recurring foot and ankle issues. He retired in 2011.
Spreading the NBA Around the World
Despite having to retire in his prime at 30 years old, Yao had an impact on the game that will last well beyond his years as a player. A goal of the NBA for a long time has been to become a global phenomenon, and Yao helped that. He brought the NBA to China, as he was must-watch television for a whole nation. The announcement for Yao’s induction into the Hall of Fame was supposed to come during the NCAA Final Four this weekend, as it is being held in Houston. Included among the traditional North American Committee finalists for the class of 2016 are Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
A lot of folks will question if Yao Ming is Hall of Fame material. You have to remember, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t the NBA Hall of Fame.