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Here’s the Only Way Yao Ming Will Be A Hall of Famer

Let me be the first to say that I am happy Yao Ming has finally decided to retire. My Houston Rockets can finally move on and actually make attempts to acquire a serviceable center. Now that that is out of the way, let’s move on to the question that has been a great talking point; if Yao is a hall of famer.

Many people feel the center should not be inducted because he hasn’t done anything on the court. Given his rash of injuries and playoff futility it’s hard to argue against that case. I can’t think of anyone getting in without having at least some semblance of playoff success, so in my world he’s not getting in on that merit. But what about going in as a “contributor of the game”? More than any other sports hall, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame celebrates those who have helped to grow the sport. By this avenue Yao could be in the hall.

Has anyone pushed more fans to a sport than Yao Ming? What other athlete has made people care about their sport more than the 7’6 man from Beijing? Tiger Woods got minorities and middle class people to follow the game of golf but has he turned an entire nation to the PGA Tour? A few years ago I traveled to Washington DC and a younger guy from Shanghai asked me where I was from. I told him Houston Texas and he immediately said Yao Ming. That is the impact he has had.

It’s difficult to feel the impact of Yao in the US where the NBA relevancy of a player is decided on the court. But in the China, there are a billion people who now understand the game of basketball thanks to Yao. It is because of this that if he is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should go in as a contributor and nothing more. Let us not forget that a large part of his career was a disappointment filled with injuries and playoff fails. But he has given new fans to the game of basketball and should be in the Hall because of this. I’ll take seeing him there over seeing him in a Rockets uniform again any day of the week.

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Posted by on Jul 13 2011. Filed under Zone Blog.
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