Yao Ming spent eight seasons under contract with the Houston Rockets. And he was an All-Star in every one of those seasons.
If you didn’t know Yao, that would be really impressive. But because you do know him, and what he’s been through, you know that a few of those weren’t really earned by his play. There was a little bit of stuffing of the ballot boxes by Yao’s fans in China.
So maybe it’s fitting that Yao may benefit from the Chinese vote one last time as he begins his retirement.
Yao Ming appears destined to be an unexpected member of the next Hall of Fame class.
Officials of the basketball museum said representatives from the Chinese Basketball Association and media in China signaled plans to nominate Yao in the contributor category and bypass the usual five-year waiting period for retired players.
While there is no such thing as certainty in a balloting so secretive that even the voters are never revealed, let alone the results, Yao being nominated as a contributor removes the debate that might have accompanied his nomination as a player after an injury-plagued career. Plus, after announcing his retirement from the Rockets in July, he would not have been eligible for enshrinement until 2017.
We debated whether Yao Ming was a Hall of Famer a few weeks ago. A recurring argument was that his playing days were too marred by injury and he didn’t play enough full seasons to really warrant inclusion as a player. But it seemed most people who were anti-player-inclusion were OK with him getting in as a contributor. After all, he is probably the biggest reason why basketball is so popular in China. All this talk we hear about NBA superstars signing with Chinese teams is because Yao opened the door.
And really, this may be the most fitting way for him to get in. A huge push from Chinese voters putting Yao in with the game’s best one last time just makes sense. He absolutely deserves to be enshrined as a contributor, and there is no doubt he will get in some day in that fashion. He’s a true pioneer who has made a large number of people very, very rich.
Hey, maybe instead of enshrinement, he should just get a cut from everyone who made millions off his influence in China. He might become the richest guy in the world.