Yao Ming's shortcut to the Hall of Fame

508038.jpg

Yao Ming's shortcut to the Hall of Fame

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 9, 2011
HOUSTON (AP) -- Retired Houston Rockets center Yao Ming could enter the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as early as next year -- not as a player, but as a contributor to the game. 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. The 7-foot-6 Yao retired in July after leg and foot injuries ended his eight-year NBA career. The eight-time All-Star averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds in the NBA. He'll also be remembered for his global impact on the league, almost single-handedly expanded its reach throughout Asia. Doleva said a panel of seven "experts on the international game" will consider Yao's credentials, and six of the seven will have to approve Yao's election. The panel is only allowed to select one individual, and Doleva said Yao will be facing about 12-15 other candidates for induction next year. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 1. Doleva says a member of the Chinese media contacted him to ask about the categories available for individuals, and submitted a formal application this week on Yao's behalf. "It has to go through the process," Doleva said. "There is no guarantee when someone is nominated that they will be elected in their first year. That's kind of what makes the process work. The committee takes a look at the pros and cons." Yao can certainly make a compelling argument. His charisma and popularity helped spike merchandise sales and prompted record TV ratings for games after the Rockets made him the top overall pick in the 2002 draft. NBA commissioner David Stern called Yao "a transformational player and a testament to the globalization of our game." Yao also donated 2 million to set up a foundation to rebuild schools destroyed by the earthquake in Sichuan province in May 2008. He carried the Olympic torch through Tiananmen Square and his country's flag during the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, now a television analyst, said Yao deserves Hall of Fame consideration, not just for his statistics, but for his unprecedented impact on the game. Van Gundy coached Yao from 2003-07. "He's been one of the greatest ambassadors to ever set foot on an NBA floor," Van Gundy said. "This guy touched so many people, and really opened doors in China, not only for himself, but for so many others." Doleva said Yao could make more history if he's inducted as both a contributor and as a player. He'll first be eligible as a player with the class of 2017. "There are examples of people who have been elected as players, and then elected as coaches," Doleva said. "But there has never been anyone elected as a contributor, and then elected as a player or a coach. That's not to say it can't be done, there are no rules against it. But it would be the first time."

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

bruins_tuukka_rask_110315.jpg

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.