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.
Yao had been nominated and enters the Hall of Fame under a newly created Direct Elect International Committee. The formal announcement is expected to come at the NCAA Final Four in Houston this weekend.
Yao, 35, is largely responsible for the NBA’s massive reach into China and the Far East. Television ratings and merchandise sales exploded there upon Yao’s rise to stardom in the NBA.
As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft, Yao made a dramatic and celebrated entrance into the league. After rapidly developing into a dominant force, several lower leg and foot issues severely damaged his durability and shortened his career. Yao averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game across parts of eight seasons.
In a career cut short because of chronic injuries – including a third left foot fracture in 2010 –Yao retired in 2011. He was twice voted to the All-NBA second team (2007 and ’09) and three times made the All-NBA third team (2004, ’06 and ’08).
Included among the traditional North American Committee finalists for the class of 2016 are Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
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