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China's Yao Ming inducted into NBA Hall of Fame

Reporter: Jim Spellman 丨 CCTV.com

09-10-2016 11:35 BJT

The NBA hall of Fame has inducted many great players including Michael Jordan, Doctor-Jay and Larry Bird. Now, China's Yao Ming is joining these greats as one of the best players to ever play the game. But, it's not just his skills that are gaining him legendary status - it's also his off-the-court impact.

Chinese basketball sensation Yao Ming began his career on the court with the Shanghai Sharks. His two-point-two-nine meter height helped make him a dominant force in the Chinese Basketball Association.

He caught the eye of scouts for the NBA and in 2002 was the league's Number One overall draft pick - selected by the Houston Rockets.

He became one of the dominant centers in the league and led the Rockets to four playoff appearances.

His loyal fans in the US voted him onto the NBA all-star team eight times.

Gene Wang is a Chinese-American sports writer with the Washington Post.

"It meant so much to me because growing up in the team sports you never saw a guy who looked like me excelling the way Yao Ming did. To me it was so gratifying to be able to cover him there, I could speak Chinese to him afterwards in the locker room. How often does that happen," Wang said.

And the star player always valued those Chinese fans in the US.

"When I just came to the United States I needed some time to adapt into the oversea culture. It took a little time whether I like it or not. Of course the first community that opened arms is the Chinese community," said Yao Ming.

Back home he helped make basketball one of the most popular sports in China.

He led China's Olympic team three times, even as injuries began to plague his career.

In 2011 Yao Ming retired as a player.

"I would like to thank you for giving me a great nine-years during my NBA career," he said.

Off the court he has taken on new roles.

He helped bring the 2022 Winter Olympics to Beijing and he now owns the Shanghai Sharks. He has become a fierce advocate for wildlife preservation, battling the illegal ivory trade.

"People took a small piece of an elephant, but left most of it behind. But the small piece they've taken away is not only including the ivory, also including the life. So, that's how I feel," he said.

He even went back to school to complete his college education, all while contributing to Chinese society as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"Yao Ming believes in using the power of sports to bring people together, especially by building cultural bridges between the US and China," said Jim Spellman, springfield, Massachusetts.

"These are the two most important countries in the world right now, China and the US, and we have so much we can do," Yao said.

And now he takes his place in the Basketball Hall of Fame -- alongside the all-time greats.

Though he is now much more than a basketball player -- his passion for the game remains.

"I always hear people say 'I don't play basketball anymore because I'm not tall enough or I'm not good enough' but remember the fun and the joy that basketball brings to you, not only the result," he said.

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