Monday, July 11th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  68 responses

Jeff Van Gundy: Yao Ming a Hall of Famer

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

It wasn’t surprising that Yao Ming finally decided to call it quits; the signs that his playing days were over had been there for quite some time now.

According to his agent, there will be a press conference on July 20th to presumably make the retirement official.

Yao Ming only played for eight years in the NBA, but he left an indelible mark on the League, and his impact on the game of basketball globally is enormous. Injuries are to blame for his tragically short stint in the NBA — they started cutting Yao’s career short in just his fourth season (Ming played an average of 81 games per year through his first 3 seasons in the L.)

The towering center with a deft touch around the rim and from outside the paint, put up averages of 19 points, 9 boards and shot 52% from the field for his career, and when you combine that with everything else he accomplished off the court, Yao Ming’s former Houton Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy says that’s more than enough to warrant a Hall of Fame berth.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“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.”

He then added a thought he would repeat often. “People forget,” Van Gundy said, “just how good he was.” With Yao’s decision to retire rather than attempt another comeback from another injury, discussions about his career always will include thoughts of what could have been.

Strictly based on the merits of what he did on the court, you could legitimately argue that Yao Ming is not a Hall of Famer.

But good luck pushing that argument any further when you take into account the totality of his accomplishments and impact on the game across the globe.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , ,

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    There Van Gundy goes again with his “crackish” behavior. Yao Ming was a very good player but his career wasn’t long or illustrious enough for him to be in the HOF.

  • rich

    i think he should make it to the hall based on what he did for basketball, the guy literally made 1/6 of the world interested in him for playing basketball, without Yao i seriously doubt there would be YI sun yue or any other moderately sucessful chinese players

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    First ballot, the guy was the best center in the league after shaq faded.

  • Gaz

    always thought yao was just a bit too asian for my liking…

  • AD

    Yao is the reason why china loves bbal so much…. He is definetly a hALL OF FAMER… JUST GON TAKE SOME TIME BUT STILL.. He’s a big part of the NBA’s success in China and in Europe


    Hall of Fame indicator thing is cracked. How in the hell is Tim Duncan not guaranteed to be in the HOF, get that ish outta here.

  • kobe4ever8

    Never did like Yao, but if you look at what he did for the game. He opened China’s eyes to NBA brand of basketball. In many ways, T-mac, Kobe, Lebron etc should thank Yao; because without Yao Ming, these players would still have fan base in China, but not the kind of popularity they are enjoying now. that’s why he’s HOF in my book. thanks Yao, and good luck!

  • Overtime

    That list from Basketball-ref also has Manu Ginobili at 26th with 0.13
    Good luck with that

  • Logic in the chi

    @ first i disagreed based on performance not that he was not skilled and right behind shaq. Well maybe not right behind. i was won over with the ambassador arguments and you gotta love how Jeff van Gundy sticks up for his guys. Let me find out Jeff got some loving long time in china

  • Gogs

    his career in the nba wasn’t long enough but Yao as a figurehead internationally should make him a strong candidate. Walton’s in the hall and there are parallels, there very good player (elite) yet due to injuries etc their career’s were cut short.

  • crooklyn sazer

    When a guy continually gets voted to the all star team without barely playing, I think it’s safe to say he was more an ambassdor to the game than first ballot on his on-court achievments. Loved watching him play hated watching him injured. Definitely another woulda, coulda story. I would also like to know if someone can make sense of the whole nba hall of fame anyways, I remember this magazine doing a story of the mystery behind the voting, involvement, etc.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    Definitely not a hall of famer for his production on the court. And while Yao was a good center, 19 and 9 doesn’t really scream elite player. JVG has a soft spot for 7 footers, especially if he’s coached them(Pat,Yao)

  • rich
  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    The big difference between Yao and Walton was that when 100% healthy, Walton was an all-time talent and a great player while Yao never came close to dominating like someone with his size and shooting touch should have. 19/9 was cool but they don’t come close to matching the 19/14 Walton put up in 76/77 along with his 77/78 Finals MVP.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    @CP3NOLA – 99.99% isn’t good enough for you? You need to study statistics a little more.

  • Will Lee

    No brained. Too easy to say he is a surefire in the hall. Contributors, coaches, owners and writers could be in the hall. Yao is definitely one, off his impact.


    This is bs and why the hall is weak. Yao Ming IS NOT A HALL OF FAMER. I dont care what he did as a “ambassodor” of the game. If that is the case then the guys in Hoosiers and other basketball movies should be Hall of Famers b.c they pushed basketball. Ohh and Spike Lee should be too. Jeff VanGundy is crazy on this one. His stats werent that amazing and his PLAYOFF SUCCESS was even less amazing. Dude was overrated his whole career and got a pass b.c he was chinese and 7 foot plus. EVERYONE abused him while he was playing. I remember NATE ROBINSON dunking on him. That is what Van Gundy forgot to mention.


    Walton was trash in the nba. He had a few good years but was always hurt. He gets a pass b.c of the great white hope card. I do like him as a commentator b.c he is hilarious.

  • Myung

    I wrote this Saturday on the original Yao Ming post, and I’ll copy and paste it here again: “For those who are saying Yao is not a HOF-er, I just want to ask you in the least condescending way possible: have you been to the HOF or at least seen the people in the HOF (just google it)? Please look at the men and women in the HOF and then ask again if Yao Ming is worthy of the HOF. I mentioned this yesterday, and I’ll say it again: the basketball HOF is not the NBA HOF. It is the BASKETBALL (I wish I could italicize, underline, and put it in 50 point font) HOF. He will get in. If guys got in based on stats alone, the “Is Yao HOF worthy?” debate is a legit one. But being a great player isn’t the only way one makes it to Springfield. There is a misconception that the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is the NBA Hall of Fame. There are many NBA players in the HOF and it is the ultimate goal of most basketball players (besides winning rings and making lots of money). But you have to keep in mind that men AND women, players AND coaches, referees AND announcers have all made the HOF. Just to give you an example, these were the people inducted in 1961: Bernhard “Bennie” Borgmann, Forrest S. DeBernardi, George H. Hoyt, George E. Keogan, Robert A. “Bob” Kurland, John J. O’Brien, Andy Phillip, Ernest C. Quigley, David H. Walsh, John S. Roosma, Leonard D. Sachs, Arthur A. Schabinger, Christian “Chris” Steinmetz, David “Dave” Tobey, Arthur L. Trester, Edward A. “Ed” Wachter. I’ve been a die hard hoops head for 25+ years, and I’ve never even heard of these people. Again, please spend 5 minutes looking at the list of names of those inducted into the HOF before you begin to even think that Yao Ming will not be in the HOF. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the Mecca for hoop heads (Springfield) 5 years ago, and I was legitimately stunned that so many “no names” were in the HOF. In my ignorance, I thought only the best of the best NBA players were inducted. I was wrong. I think debates are healthy and they’re what make SLAMonline fun to visit… but in this particular case, if you think Yao Ming will not make the HOF, then you don’t know the HOF.”

  • http://elchinas.wordpress.com El Chinas

    You can argue either way. But the fact that we are having this conversation while he is only 30 breaks my heart.

  • Myung

    Bill Walton also made it because of his career at UCLA. Please keep in mind that the Hall enshrines some people who’ve never even played in the NBA. Maybe they made their fame overseas. Maybe they were brilliant coaches. Maybe they were amazing in college… Side tangent: While I wasn’t a huge fan of the book because there were so many factual and grammatical errors (and because the author can be hard to stomach at times), I did enjoy the Pyramid that Bill Simmons proposed in his Book of Basketball because THAT is essentially what many of us (as NBA fans) think of when we think of the Hall of Fame. We want our HOF to include the best of the best PLAYERS who played in our favorite League (the NBA). The bottomline is, that Pyramid is fictional, and the only reality is the Naismith HOF in Springfield, MA. Somewhere along the line, many of us (including myself before I visited the Hall) grew to believe the Basketball HOF was actually the NBA HOF, when in fact, there is no such thing. And there are clearly people in the Hall who possibly don’t “deserve” to be in there by our standards because they only played a few seasons (ex. Drazen Petrovic) or battled injuries throughout their pro careers (ex. Bill Walton). But the HOF looks at the total package. What did he/she do in high school and colllege? What impact did he/she have on the game, both here and overseas? I respect those of you who feel like Yao Ming did not do enough stat-wise to warrant HOF considersation. That’s completely legitimate, and I’d even AGREE with you. But just because Yao Ming might not make it into our own fictional “Best of the best NBA Players only” Hall of Fame won’t keep him out of the one in Springfield.

  • oinestep

    @ BAWSE I agree my thoughts exactly

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    Walton was also an outstanding college player, thats not really a fair comparison. I think most people can agree that stat wise, he’s not HOF worthy, but like Myung points out, is not the NBA HOF, its for basketball. Its also not just for people that played, so him getting in based of his global impact is not far fetched at all. I think that JVG was insinuating that he could get in based of his stats OR as an ambassador, which is what got people up in arms.

  • T-Money

    1- Yao will get in the HOF because the criteria go beyong on-court achievement. And there’s something to that, he WAS a pioneer and he SHOULD be remembered. 2- No, he didn’t have a “HOF-type” career and, to be honest, was a bit disappointing – even when healthy. He was never a terror on the court and didn’t affect games on the defensive end like he should have. 3-The NBA should get its own HOF but that’s another topic entirely.

  • triyo

    19/9 isnt bad for Yao considering he spent what would have been his prime injured. who knows he could have been putting up 25 and 12 if healthy these last few years.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    JT: That 19/14 was Walton’s best season that you’re comparing to Yao’s career average. That’s like comparing Yao’s best season (25/9) to Walton’s career (13/11). Their careers are closer than you think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I think Yao will probably get in, he’s done great things for the sport of basketball, and is probably the best offensive C of our era next to Shaq.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    @Caboose: +1

  • dmoney

    @Myung , 100% agree with you brotha

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    Starbury is grateful for Yao.


    if Dick Vitale is in the HOF then Yao better be too

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Yao Ming Yao Ming Yao Ming

  • T-Money

    blackphantom: slow your roll, depending on how you define era…

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    @T-Money, I mean 2000-2010. Damn, I shouldv’e said decade instead.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    Co-sign Myung. Yao shouldn’t be in a basketball Hall of Fame that recognizes only the best players. But based on the criteria of the existing basketball Hall of Fame, Yao belongs.

  • DieselMechanic

    Agreed. Yao is a historically unique specimen. The stat that stands out to me is a career 83% ft shooter. What touch!

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Jeff’s right. Yao Ming will be in Springfield.

  • James AKA…

    If David Thompson and Bill Walton can make it in spite of their short careers, combined with their non NBA contributions, Yao can too.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Was anyone taller than Yao besides Manute Bol? Bradley maybe was the same height? What surprised me about Yao was how massive he was. Not the 7’6″, but dude had redwoods for legs, and a decent build. He could handle Shaq banging on him… Pause…

  • Wills13

    Sure, while youre at it throw brian scalabrane in with him


    None of these arguments show why his CAREER was hall of fame worthy. Open up the nba for more MARKETING doesnt make you Hall of Fame worthy! He didnt intergrate the league for players that were banned or do anything that amazing but be 7 feet tall. He should not be in the HOF. He didnt dominate ANY year he played or really won. The other people that you see in the Hall were all OLD TIMERS WHO HELPED THE LEAGUE. Yao came in the 90s so he was not a PIONEER @MYUNG. I know your biased but lets be real. THIS DUDE WAS OKAY AND HYPED. Then Jason Willams aka White Chocolate should be going b.c he showed a white boy could have some And 1 in his game. Not one PERSON HAS TALKED ABOUT HIS okay NBA CAREER.


    George Murshawn was TALLER!!! Also asks the Rocket fans that LIVE IN HOUSTON how much they enjoyed UNDERACHEIVING EVERY YEAR and waiting for their Ming dynasty. BILL WALTON at least had a college career and to be honest had a better nba career than Yao.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    @ LakeShow Gheorghe Muresean (sp?) He was 7’7″ But Yao’s legs always shocked me as well. They were massive, that probably didn’t help all those leg injuries he suffered. Fact is, he probably was just too big and heavy to be running up and down a basketball court 3/4th’s of the year.

  • Myung

    BAWSE, I’m biased in what way? Do I like Yao Ming? No. Am I Chinese? No (I’m Korean). I don’t count any Asian players among my top 50 favorite NBA players of all time (not that there are many to choose from, but still). My favorite NBA players are black or white. I grew up in the States and went to college in the States. I appreciate you pigeon-holing me because of my name. I guess I should just use a fake name like Tom Vander Schmitt to show some objectivity? Grow up and stop being so ignorant.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    There really any remote comparison between Yao Ming and Bill Walton. Bill Walton had what, four healthy seasons? In those seasons, he won three championships, one MVP, one Finals MVP and one sixth man award.
    Name another player who did that. Plus Yao wasn’t even half as complete as Walton.
    Thompson is a little more apt. The difference is David Thompson was more a prototype player who everyone modeled after, while Yao is gonna have to get in more for what he did for fans rather than for players.

  • VCsuxA$$

    @ Gaz, are you an idiot or just ignorant? Maybe Yao was too asian cause HE IS ASIAN?!?! What kind of moronic comment is “alway thought he was too asian?”…ignorant

  • bike

    Yao on his HOF potential: ‘Me no care if I go to Hall. Why they call it Hall? Me want great spicy chinese dish named after me. Want call it Moo Goo Yao Ming. I no care go to Hall. Me want lots pretty girls now. Drop panties. Drop panties’.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    @Bike: I can’t tell if that was racist or not, but I do know it wasn’t funny. Try harder. Or not at all. Which ever.


    @MYUNG I wasnt being ignorant. Your actually super sensitive. I was saying your bias like Jeff Van Gundy and he isnt ASAIN. Your boy aint a HOF but b.c of his “off court” achievements he will be ( HE REALLY DIDNT DO ANYTHING BUT BE WHO HE WAS BORN AS BUT THAT IS A TOPIC FOR A DIFFERENT DAY). I like him as a person but think it is bs that he is a HALL OF FAME PLAYER.

  • Myung

    I think the moderator needs to remember that at the bottom of this comment section, it says “The comments section is a place to further discuss the topics in this post. Commenters who seek to accomplish any of the following may be banned…Make derogatory comments regarding race, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation or religion.” Friday’s Yao Ming section was for the most part complimentary of the big guy’s career. I guess the immature and ignorant folks come out to play on Monday’s.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    Myung: There are no moderators.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    That warning section is just a horsesh*t scarecrow from a company who really doesn’t care what happens on the website as long as it keeps getting the hits.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Walton got in because of college. Period.
    Yeah, he had that one ring, but the real reason he is a Hall of Famer is because of how dominant he was in college. Yao and Walton’s NBA career’s are very comparable, and you could argue that Yao’s impact internationally is equal to what Walton did in college, particularly if you consider Sabonis.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Jukai, let me clear it up for you.
    Bike’s comment was racist.
    If the “joke” is solely based on the race or ethnicity of a person and has no other humor about it, then it’s racist. Easy reference point for you.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    Walton didn’t get a ring. Walton got in because he lead the worst team ever in the NBA to a championship by himself against Dr. J, rocked the league the next year and was so far ahead of his competition that he got the MVP award only playing 60 games, then joined one of the best dynasties in basketball years later and revived his career for two small years where he became the backup center/forward to Parish/McHale, won the sixth man award and anchored the defense and game the Celtics a big man passing option they never had.
    That’s why he is in the HOF. Is there anyone who has both a Finals MVP and a regular season MVP and two other championships who ISN’T in the HOF? Ridiculous. He’d be in if he went in straight from HS. The dominance in college is a cherry on the cake.
    And you’re right about Bike’s awful joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com The Philosopher

    2nd ballot.
    Wouldn’t be upset if he made 1st ballot.
    But, surely 2nd ballot.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    And Yao’s career isn’t even comparable in any type of way to Walton. Yao was never top-5 in MVP voting. He never made it out of the first round, no playoff victories at all. He couldn’t pass, rebound or defend anywhere near Walton’s level. I mean, the careers are similar only if you look at games played. That’s it.
    It is a bum comparison.
    Let’s stick to David Thompson, thx.

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    My 3:18 post should be “Yao didn’t get a ring”
    Sorry. Gotta proofread.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    I do not understand how this is even in dispute. Yao Ming belongs in the HOF no questions asked.
    If I remember well Yao only played about 20 mpg. He could have easily averaged close to 30 pts/20 boards and 3 blocked shots a game if it weren’t for his injuries. For all the centers I’ve witnessed his fundamentals were only inferior to Kareem’s and Olajuwon’s. His rookie year was rough in the beginning but he kept improving dramatically. Ask Kenny’s donkey!

  • http://asdklfl.com Jukai

    Yao played 32-37 minutes a game…

  • VCsuxA$$

    @ bike – great name btw, didn’t know how to spell anything else besides your name and “bike” i guess? you’re an ignornant idiot too…i’m not asian, but racism is uncalled for…if you think that’s how chinese people talk, you probably think the power rangers are for real too…ignorant idiots…let’s see you do that in a public telecast, i dare you…and then you wonder why the rest of the world thinks americans are idiots…well done to prove our stereotype to be incorrect “bike”…

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    No Dutch, He never would have rebounded even 15 a game. He played around 30 mins, and Shaq had more dominant offensive moves than Yao. Not as polished, but got the job done. Hell Chris Kaman has about the same offensive skills. Give him another 6 inches of height and he’s as good as Yao at his best.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    I didn’t count those 15 to 20 possessions when he didn’t make it up the court. Man I keep my own statistics, call me Dutch Hollinger! What!!

  • Allenp

    Whoa there VCsux
    You look like an idiot criticizing bike for stereotyping right before doing it yourself with your comment about Americans.
    What country are you from?

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    @Jukai….Are you forgetting the West Semifinals in ’09 against LA when they took the Lakers(even though he got injured in Game 3)to seven games. He’s been past the First Round, lol. It hasn’t been that bad for Yao.

  • DFrance21

    Jukai you’re grossly overstating Waltons NBA career, plain and simple. Maybe you were around to see him play live and there’s something I don’t know, but from a straight numbers perspective, outside of his Championship year and the season after it, his numbers are incredibly average. Even looking at his two best seasons he didn’t play more than 65 games either year.

  • VCsuxA$$

    @AllenP: obviously you can’t comprehend what you read. I stated “…well done to prove OUR stereotype to be incorrect “bike”, which would imply that I’m american. So to clarify for you, I’m American. Don’t try to act like you’re more significant with your comments; read before you ask a question with an obvious answer. And regarding your comment about me stereotyping, that wasn’t stereotyping. I was stating a general perception that people outside of OUR home – USA – have of us. Which does not implicate all americans, but, does warrant as objective evidence to all those outside of the USA who perceive US americans in that manner, when comments such as bike’s are made. Prejudice, stereotyping, racism are all forms of deragatoriness (yes, that’s a real word Allen). By you defending bike, which is what you’re doing, you are also fitting the rest of the world’s perception that WE, americans, are idiots.

  • iorpi

    The guy was the best center after shaq. He and shaq were the only players that constantly attracted triple-team defense. If you look at all the scratches on this guy’s arms and think about that the guy always carried some little guys on his back when he attacked the rim, you know the guy was really something! I do not care whether this guy is a Hall of Famer; I just know that this guy was one of the few real dominant guys the league has ever had. I feel sad that I could not watch him for longer, particularly when Yao was under Rudy T. Van Gundy was too greedy using Yao. For example he gave Yao too much duties on tough physical defense and let a 7’5” guy running back and forth too much. In terms of using Yao, Van Gundy was definitely not as smart as Rudy T. Had Rudy not detected cancer, he would have steadily and thoroughly developed Yao into an even better player who could definitely have a much longer and more brilliant career. Yao’s brilliant passing talents (just watch some of the clips from Yao’s first few seasons) for example were rarely employed during Van Gundy’s tenure.