Is Yao Ming a Hall of Famer? Serious debate on the issue likely would have picked up in 2017, the end of his five-year waiting period to be considered for the Hall of Fame. But the Chinese Basketball Assn. plans on working its way around that restriction.
According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, the CBA and the media in China will nominate Yao for the contributor category in 2012.The necessary paperwork is set to be filed in time before the 2012 ballot is finalized.
This designation has no time period set on it and reads as follows:
The Hall defines the category as "significant contributions to the game of basketball. What constitutes a 'significant contribution' shall be determined" by executives there along with the two committees that vote on induction.
This will have a huge impact on how the voters view him during the voting process. Yao did average 19 points and 9.2 rebounds for his career. Projecting those numbers across a fuller career, based on a reasonable amount of good health, Yao likely would have had an open-and-shut case for the Hall of Fame. Various foot injuries hurt his amount of time on the court, however.
But combine his on-court production with his status of global ambassador for basketball, Yao may very well have a strong case for enshrinement. He brought NBA basketball to billions in China and created goodwill around the world for the game. Will the voters see it that way? Certainly Yao's former coach, Jeff Van Gundy, thinks so.