Hall of Fame Journey Testament to Unique Bridge Yao Ming Built Between Cultures

September 7th, 2016 by Ric Bucher Leave a reply »

Yao Ming is about to become the first and only player from the People's Republic of China to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He might just be the unlikeliest inductee the Hall has ever welcomed as well.

First, being among the greatest ever in basketball wasn't something a young Chinese boy of Yao's generation even considered possible.

Second, if any Chinese player did achieve international acclaim, it wasn't supposed to be Yao.

"I am asked all the time, 'Who did you follow? Who did you want to play like growing up?'" Yao recalled just a few days ago in a phone call from his hometown, Shanghai. "No one outside of China ever heard of those players for me. I didn't dream of playing in the NBA. I had different dreams."

And now he enters the Hall of Fame with Allen Iverson and Shaquille O'Neal, two players who by appearance and playing style could not be more different than Yao—yet the respect is unmistakably mutual. Iverson referred to Yao as "a gift from God," and O'Neal, with whom he developed a fierce but ultimately respectful rival ...

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