Does Yao Ming belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame?
Competing with players like Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc and Dino Radja, the answer appears to be yes.
That’s at least the conclusion of the Hall’s international committee, which judged Yao’s candidacy.
Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, a transcendent 7-foot-6 Chinese icon, has been elected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, league sources told The Vertical.
The honors committee considers finalists as determined by the North American committee, including Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson this year. Those two will likely join Yao in the Hall after going through that additional layer of scrutiny. Yao got directly elected by the international committee.
Yao made five All-NBA teams – two seconds and a three thirds – in his nine-year career. He made the All-Star game all nine of his seasons, though fan voting certainly helped. He averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
He played like a borderline Hall of Famer.
But the Basketball Hall of Fame does a poor job honoring the sport’s best players. Rather, the Hall attempts to honor people from various backgrounds. So, Yao gets extra credit for being a pioneer from Asia in the NBA. That’s an important part of Yao’s story, but it doesn’t alter his on-court accomplishments.
So, back to the original question: Does Yao Ming belong in the Basketball Hall of Fame? It’d be an interesting argument for an NBA Hall of Fame. But in the Basketball Hall of Fame, there was little doubt he’d make it.