Yao en­ters Hall of Fame

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE -

Yao Ming, who in­spired a gen­er­a­tion of NBA fans in his na­tive China, wist­fully ac­knowl­edged a ca­reer that “ended too soon” as he was in­ducted into the Nai­smith Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I trea­sure each and ev­ery mo­ment. I’m grate­ful for my time on court and for your recog­ni­tion tonight,” Yao said in a speech that was also lit­tered with hu­mor­ous digs at his fel­low in­ductees.

The tow­er­ing seven-foot-six-inch cen­ter was joined in the class of 2016 by the likes of cen­ter Shaquille O’Neal and guard Allen Iver­son.

“My par­ents were basketball play­ers back to the 1970s,” Yao, the first over­all pick in the 2002 NBA draft, said at the cer­e­mony in Spring­field, Mas­sachusetts on Sept 9.

“I’m so for­tu­nate to be your son. The gift I got from you was not only the height but the way you taught me to think, and to make de­ci­sions,” he said.

He then joked about how his par­ents had taught his “soft touch on the free throw line”, tak­ing a friendly pot shot at O’Neal, who was no­to­ri­ously in­ac­cu­rate from the line dur­ing his ca­reer.

An eight-time All-Star, Yao played 486 games over nine years, all with the Hous­ton Rock­ets, av­er­ag­ing 19 points and 9.2 re­bounds be­fore foot and an­kle in­juries forced his re­tire­ment in 2011.

“We all look older and fat­ter than when we first met,” Yao, 35, joked as he rem­i­nisced about his ca­reer.

Oth­ers in­ducted on Fri­day in­cluded 11-time All-Star Iver­son, the first over­all pick in the 1996 NBA draft, as well as Sh­eryl Swoopes, a three-time gold medal­ist on the United States women’s Olympic team.

XIN­HUA

Yao Ming (right, sec­ond) and his wife Ye Li (left, sec­ond) pose with fans at the Spring­field Sym­phony Hall be­fore the 2016 Nai­smith Me­mo­rial Basketball Hall of Fame En­shrine­ment Cer­e­mony on Fri­day.

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