Report: Yao Ming is to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame

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It's been reported that legendary Chinese center Yao Ming is to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The 7'6" pivot was the number one pick in the 2002 draft and he spent his entire eight-year NBA career with the Houston Rockets. However, Ming was much more than just a high-end pick with on-court potential.

The Shanghai-born star was a key figure in not only the growth of the NBA in China - the most populated country on earth - but increasing the game's presence around the world - period.

Ming was a polarising figure in the NBA for a variety of reasons. His incredible size was jaw-dropping upon first look, but not unseen before in the NBA. However, his stroke and penchant for being able to play inside or outside made him the excellent competitor he was.

The eight-time All-Star is still only 35-years-old and could certainly be playing for a leading franchise right now, were it not for the crippling, chronic injuries that forced him to retire in his prime at 30.

Upon hearing of Ming's retirement in 2011, Shaquille O'Neal - another legendary center - told NBA TV: "If he didn't have those injuries, he probably would have been up there with the top 5 centers to ever play the game."

Ming averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game through his NBA career and the official announcement of his induction is expected to come at the NCAA Final Four in Houston this weekend. The likes of Allen Iverson and former rival O'Neal are likely to be inducted in the same class.

That's not to take anything away from his on-court achievements; any player that ends up with close to a double-double is an elite star. In fact, his averages probably would have been even better if injuries hadn't robbed him of the best years of his career.

Ming is a part of the reason that the NBA is the global force it is today.'s Michael Wilbon noted back in December 2010 that approximately 200 million people tuned into China Central Television to see Yao play a regular season matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Soaring TV ratings is one thing, but it didn't stop there for Ming. The likeable personality at the five spot broke a record held by Michael Jordan in 2005 when he acquired the most All-Star votes ever, at 2,558,278.

When he announced his retirement due to lingering foot and leg issues, NBA commissioner David Stern proclaimed Yao as a "bridge between Chinese and American fans" who had "a wonderful mixture of talent, dedication, humanitarian aspirations and a sense of humour."

He was everything the NBA ever wanted him to be. Not only was Ming a top player deserving of his All-Star accolades, but he was a role model, too.

There may never be a player so influential in the growth of the NBA overseas as this giant center.

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