Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Yao Ming were among the names inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.
The most notable 2016 Hall of Fame inductees perhaps are O’Neal and Iverson. O’Neal spent 19 years in the NBA, playing for six different teams. One of the most commanding centers in NBA history, O’Neal was a four-time NBA champion. The 7’1″ 325 pounder began his college career at LSU before being drafted in the first round in 1992 by the Orlando Magic. Only greatness followed from there. The big man earned a number of personal accolades including 15 All-Star game selections, three Finals MVP Awards, the 92-93 Rookie of the Year, two-scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive team selections. O’Neal was also one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP, and Finals MVP in the same year (2000). O’Neal says his father was an influence for him to play the game. He added that being inducted to the Naismith Hall of Fame is a big deal but says he wishes his Dad and former coach could have been there.
One of the NBA’s most energetic players of all time, Allen Iverson finally got the recognition his career deserved. Iverson proved that being “smaller” than most of the guys he played around didn’t affect his talent. Iverson began his college career at Georgetown before being drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played from 1996-2006. Iverson was named Rookie of the Year for the 96-97 season and owns four scoring titles. The 6’0″ 165 pounder was one of the best scorers the league has seen, as he averaged 26.7 points a game during the regular season and 29.7 during his playoff career, directly behind the great Michael Jordan. Iverson says being inducted never really crossed his mind.
Among other players inducted into the 2016 Hall of Fame was Yao Ming, who was the tallest active player in the NBA during his final season in the league. Ming, one of China’s best known athletes, played for the Houston Rockets from 1997-2011 and was named All-NBA five times, and was an eight time All Star selection as well.
Also on the list of Hall of Famers was female basketball player Sheryl Swoopes who was the first player to be signed to the WNBA. During her career she won Olympic Gold Medals, and is a three-time WNBA MVP. Swoopes currently coaches for Loyola University Chicago.
Some inductees, like former ABA center Zelmo Beatty, will be inducted posthumously to the Hall.