A friend of mine maintains that even with an early retirement, Yao Ming is an NBA Hall of Famer.
He takes into account Yao's overall contributions to the game, which included giving the NBA a market in China and drawing in millions of new followers from throughout Asia.
And if we're considering off-the-court achievements, it's tough to argue with that reasoning.
We know for a fact that there are players in other sports who aren't in their respective Hall of Fame because of things they did off the field of play.
So it doesn't seem unreasonable to let someone in for things they did off the field of play.
I just wish we could have seen Yao play long enough that it wouldn't have been quite the debate it is now, because the 7-foot-6 center certainly had the talent to put up Hall-type numbers. But with his official retirement on Tuesday, July 19, at age 30, Yao is now done.