Houston Chronicle, former Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy declared that recently retired Yao Ming was a Hall of Famer.
“No. 1 to me, he’s a Hall of Famer,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t care if you put him in as player, as a contributor or put him in with his own heading. This guy definitely gets in for the greatness as a player when healthy or what he did as ambassador.”
“People forget,” Van Gundy said, “just how good he was.”
True, when Yao was good he could be very good. He did improve his scoring average each of his non injury years in the league. We really don't know how good he could've been due to injuries and and his abrupt retirement. That sentiment seems to be echoed by his former teammates and coaches.
“I don’t think people remember how dominant he was,” former Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “He was a great offensive player and a very effective defensive player. You couldn’t guard him one-on-one. Shaq (O’Neal) was like that. Yao was like that. They were just too good. You had to send help against them. And if you fouled Yao, he was an 89 percent free-throw shooter.
“He became a very effective defensive player. He knew how to use his size to get in position that guys had a hard time finishing at the rim.”
“I feel gypped I wasn’t able to see Yao and play with Yao with an opportunity to maximize his potential,” former Rockets forward Shane Battier said. “I would have loved to play with a healthy Yao at 31 , 32 years old with nine or 10 years of seasoning under his belt. I don’t think anyone would have stopped him. That’s the tragedy from a basketball sense. We were not able to see what could have been basketball-wise.”
“There is no doubt if he stayed healthy, we’d be talking about one of the top centers to ever play the game,”Rick Adelman said. “He’s right there in the top 10. He had such unbelievable scoring touch. He was so dominant.”
On stats alone I would say no. No disrespect, but if Drazen Petrovic can get in so can Yao. He did increase the NBA's visibility in China after entering the NBA and became an international ambassador for the game. I believe if he could've stayed healthy he might be the most dominant force in the league right now. Just check the head to head stats against the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard. He developed a full low post arsenal and developed off hand and drop step moves.
I do think Yao Ming will be a Hall of Famer just not right now. Or maybe in the next five years. But he will get there. Of course there is a lot of 'what if' involved here, but if you look at the big picture I think he does belong. And no he shouldn't be penalized for playing on inferior teams in a loaded Western Conference.