Yao Ming

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports:

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.

This unique approach would put Yao on the ballot that is submitted in late-2011 and faces two rounds of voting before inductees for the Class of 2012 are announced at the Final Four in New Orleans. The actual enshrinement would be later in the summer, likely August, in Springfield.

InsideHoops.com editor says: I wouldn’t put Yao Ming in the Hall of Fame as a player, because he simply didn’t play enough. A very good center who was often pretty great, Yao wasn’t as healthy as needed for a full career. But I have no objection to putting Yao in the Hall as a “contributor” to basketball, which is term that is extremely open to interpretation. And in this case, it seems reasonable. He helped bring millions of new fans to basketball, and inspired millions of others to care more. And lots of them will stick around and be a part of the sport, even as Yao’s playing days are finished.

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