Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports:

Yao Ming

The question, repeated dozens of times through the day, will no doubt be posed to Jeff Van Gundy as long as he can answer. Van Gundy was the second of Yao Ming’s three NBA coaches, and for all 
he has or will accomplish, Van Gundy will be asked about the unique, iconic center he coached for four seasons with the Rockets.

Van Gundy had his 
answer, for a question not yet asked, ready.

“No. 1 to me, he’s a Hall of Famer,” Van Gundy said. “Idon’t care if you put him in as player, as a contributor or put him in with his own heading. This guy definitely gets in for the greatness as a player when healthy or what he did as ambassador.”

He then added a thought he would repeat often.

“People forget,” Van Gundy said, “just how good he was.”

With Yao’s decision to retire rather than attempt another comeback from another injury, discussions about his career always will include thoughts of what could have been. Yao, 30, played in eight of his nine seasons since he was the first pick of the 2002 draft, including the five games he played this past season. editor says: I disagree with Van Gundy. Yao didn’t play enough to make it as a player. And as for helping spread basketball to China, it mostly the efforts of the people in charge, using him to help bridge various basketball gaps. And Yao gets lots of credit, too, of course. But I don’t see him in the Hall.