Yao nominated for Hall as contributor

Retired Houston Rockets center Yao Ming could enter the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as early as next year as a contributor.

John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall, said Tuesday that Yao has been nominated by a member of the Chinese media and his credentials will be considered by an international panel. As a contributor, Yao would bypass the usual five-year waiting period for retired players.

Yao retired in July after injuries ended his eight-year NBA career. The 7-foot-6 Yao averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds and was an eight-time All-Star.

He almost single-handedly expanded the NBA’s reach throughout Asia, spiking merchandise sales and TV ratings after the Rockets made him the top overall pick in the 2002 draft.