After an NBA career that pioneered the path for Asian basketball players, Yao Ming is now in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Yao was honored at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts alongside WNBA player Sheryl Swoops, Colored Basketball World Champion Cumberland Posey, and NBA players Zelmo Beaty, Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neil.
As the first speaker of the night, Yao opened by cracking a joke at Iverson in reference to a May 2002 press conference where he said the word practice more than 20 times. Yao said:
“When I heard that I would be the first speaker here tonight, I think that maybe somebody made a mistake.”
The crowd chuckled slightly.
“Don’t laugh, because I think this spot belongs to great Allen Iverson. You know why?
“Because I need more practice than him,” Ming finished as the crowd and Iverson laughed.
Yao’s speech went on to thank all the mentors, colleagues and opponents who helped him when he first came from China and throughout his career.
Yao attended the ceremony along with his wife, Ye Li, who herself is a professional Chinese basketball player. Li, who is 6’ 3”, gave birth to a daughter in 2010.
Even Jeremy Lin
was lucky to grab a pic with the Hall of Famer, reminding us again just how massive Yao Ming is: