Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal, two of basketball’s most dominant centers, are likely to headline a powerful class of 2016 in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Since players are now eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame four years after they retire, a discussion opened up on Monday, triggering the possibility for the contemporary greats to be officially immortalized.
The previous requirement was that a player be retired for five full seasons, and required to be out of the game for at least six years, before he could be inducted.
Yao, the No 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft, has been a catalyst for basketball’s growth in China and most of Asia. The former eight-time all-star retired in 2011 after a highly successful nine-year stint with the Houston Rockets. Ming never played for any other NBA team.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will announce its candidates for next year’s class in about a week’s time. The finalists will be announced during the NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto during February next year. The final inductees will be unveiled in a gala ceremony on April 4 in Houston, the same day of the NCAA championship game.
O’Neal won four championships, one MVP award and three finals MVP awards during his legendary career before retiring in 2011.
Yao Ming’s induction will be a victory for Asian Basketball and its future. It will also officially recognize him as a modern-day great. Ming, who serves as President of the Shanghai Sharks these days, averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in a glorious NBA career.