HOUSTON - Yao Ming is overwhelmed his former team, the Houston Rockets, nominated him as a player for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
The Hall of Fame recently reduced the time players have to wait to be eligible from five full seasons to four.
Yao, who was with the Rockets for nine years and was an eight-time All Star, last played during the 2010-2011 season.
A source close to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame confirmed the Rockets organization nominated Yao as a player for the class of 2016.
The source told FOX 26 Sports Yao will be considered for selection by the Hall’s international committee.
“It’s a shock,” Yao said in a telephone interview with FOX 26 Sports from Beijing, China. “Pretty excited and nervous too.
“It feels almost like just (being) drafted by the Rockets again however many years ago (2002).
Yao, whose career was cut short by injuries, averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 assists.
Yao is thrilled the Rockets nominated him, and so quickly.
“I have no words to explain how special it is,” Yao said. “All I can think of is all the memories I’ve had during the Rockets time, with my team, with my teammates and the coaches and the fans.
“It is not easy to find a home away from home like the Rockets, like Houston. That is all because the management, the ownership built a place a like that, and I’m very thankful.”
The international committee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame focuses on individuals who have played or coached for a significant portion of their overall career on the global stage versus simply in the North American game.
Along with trying to digest the fact he has been nominated, Yao cannot even fathom the idea he could be elected and join the greats of the game in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a huge honor,” Yao said. “If I can be selected, I just cannot imagine that.”
Yao played for the Shanghai Sharks (a team he now owns) from 1997-2002.
He was the MVP of the FIBA Asian Championships in 2001, 2003 and 2005.
A source close to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame said the Hall officially received the Rockets’ nomination on Saturday.
The Hall's 2016 class will be unveiled on April 4th during the Men's NCAA Final Four in Houston.