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Yao Possibly HOF-Bound by 2012

A story came out last night that a Chinese basketball writer has nominated Yao Ming for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He's not nominated as a player, but as a contributor, which is an important distinction. Going in as a contributor gives Yao a much better chance of making the HOF, since it recognizes his accomplishments off the court were just as crucial to his legacy.

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Yao opened up an entire country to basketball and served as a huge symbol for the sport in China. He was the perfect ambassador for the game, staying out of most controversies and creating a boom of interest in the NBA by the Asian markets. 

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It's also not like he was a terrible NBA player, so the fact that he was able to play at a high level AND contribute so much to growing the game should give him a great case to be voted in next year. He most likely wouldn't get in as a player, as he only won one playoff series in his career and played just seven years.

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Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about a quick induction. I appreciate what Yao did and think he was unique enough to deserve enshrinement, but the historian in me thinks we should wait to see how his legacy stands up. If the NBA disappears in China after Yao's gone, will that hurt his ultimate legacy? I think so, because it means all those Chinese fans were more interested in him than the game, much like all those Cubs fans who turn out at Minute Maid Park every time Chicago is in town. (that's right, I'm calling you out, bandwagoners. Just because you watch WGN doesn't mean you are a Cubs fan. It means you watch too much TV).

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Still, I'm glad the big center is getting his chance and we also finally get some good news out of this boring lockout.

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.