When the voting takes place for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the committee is going to have some difficult selections to make. This year, the Hall’s 2016 class is extraordinary.
The finalists were announced on media day in Toronto for the All-Star Weekend and among the options were Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.
These three former superstars — all who mostly likely will head to the Hall of Fame at some point, are benefiting from a slight rule change. Players are now eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot after four full years of retirement as opposed to the previous rule of five full years.
Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the Hall of Fame, said he believes that this rule change is advantageous for the NBA, its players and coaches. “Now we benefit this year by a couple of people who are going to be eligible, but we’ve been talking about this for a while as a board,” Colangelo said. “So I think it’s a good move for the Hall of Fame.”
Ming, Iverson, and O’Neal are all worthy of their respective nominations. Shaq and Yao, while similar in stature, have several different accolades. O’Neal holstered four NBA championships, three Finals MVP’s and a league MVP. Ming never won an NBA championship or an MVP, but managed to be an 8-time All Star and a CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) champion.
Iverson, a shifty and elusive guard, was an 11-time All Star, won four scoring titles and took home an MVP. The former 76er, one of the flashiest players to step on the court, praised his mentors for their influence on the game of basketball.
“I’m a product of Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, all of those guys that paved the way for us,” Iverson said. “They might not have no idea of what they did for us as kids wanting to be like them.”
While those three are the most popular players to be named finalists from the North American and Women’s committee, there are several other individuals worthy of consideration. That list includes Kevin Johnson, Tom Izzo, Sheryl Swoopes, Darell Garreston, John McLendon, Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Leta Andrews, Robert Hughes, Bo Ryan, Muffett McGraw and Eddie Sutton.
The 2016 class will be unveiled in Houston on April 4 before the NCAA Championship game.