The most well known Chinese player in basketball, Yao Ming, has been inducted into the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame.
Yao Ming helped build an international following for the NBA and brought love and interest of the game to China.
CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Yao Ming officially inducted into NBA Hall of FameThe most well known Chinese player in basketball is set to be inducted into the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame. Yao Ming helped build an international following for the NBA and brought love and interest of the game to China. CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports from the NBA Hall of Fame.
As Yao, along with Shaq and a handful of others, prepare to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, fans outside have lined up for autographs. Yao Ming has helped make basketball a major sport in China.
And his fans in the Chinese American community are some of the most loyal in basketball. Stanley Chu traveled from New York hoping to meet Yao.
“He represents all China and all the Chinese population and community and he’s a great person,” Chu said.
Yao said fans like that helped him early on in his career when he first arrived in the United States to play for the Houston Rockets.
“The first community that opened arms is the Chinese community and I feel most comfortable, whether I like it or not,” said Yao. “And without that kind of soft landing it would have been much harder for me to get through my first couple years. They are a very important part of my life.”
Yao Ming joins the greatest players ever here at the Basketball Hall of Fame – players like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing.
“When I look up to the rooftop and all the pictures up there (pictures of the greats in the Hall of Fame,) I think of my picture up there,” Yao said. “I can’t stop from thinking how many stories behind it and all those stories build up today and what we have.”
Now he takes his place alongside the greats.
CCTV America’s Jim Spellman did a Facebook Live earlier from Springfield, Massachusetts:
He was 22 when he arrived in the U.S. as a rookie player for the Houston Rockets.
By the numbers, Yao Ming is among the best centers of all time in America’s National Basketball Association.
Known for his strength around the basket and his soft shooting touch far from it, Yao averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star.
But his impact was far greater than his ability to score baskets.
Analysts call him a trailblazer for Chinese athletes and fans. In the 2002 draft, he became the first Chinese player to be picked first.
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The Houston Rockets selected him and he spent eight years with the team. In one of his most iconic moments, in 2003, Yao played against star Shaquille O’Neal, long seen as an immovable force. But Yao stopped him, blocking his first three shots.
At nearly 2.3 meters (7 foot 6 inches) tall, Yao’s celebrity status soared on and off the court. He landed a starring role in a commercial.
Sports observers say Yao helped expand basketball’s popularity in China. As of 2013 , more than 6,700 people in China were certified basketball athletes. That’s more than any other sport.
Yao’s career was cut short. In 2011, he retired, hobbled by a series of injuries. But he’s still active in the sport. He owns the Shanghai Sharks team and lends his fame to several charities.
Since Yao first entered the NBA, Chinese influence on the game has increased. One of the best point guards in the league, Jeremy Lin, is Chinese. Several NBA teams even wore special uniforms for the Chinese New Year.
The league has expanded preseason games to China. And the home stadium of the Washington Wizards is in the city’s Chinatown.