The enshrinement ceremony next year for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame won’t lack for star power. Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson lead a long list of candidates that includes many other heralded players, coaches and contributors.
The Hall of Fame recently tweaked its eligibility requirements, which now mandate that a player must have been retired for four full seasons, rather than five. The effect of the previous rule was that first-ballot players weren’t actually inducted until six years after retirement, but now an entire class has moved up a year, creating a list chock full of big names.
The biggest, in many ways, belongs to O’Neal, who went to 15 all-star games in a 17-year career. Known for his massive size (officially listed at 7-1, 325) and fun-loving nature, O’Neal won four NBA championships and the 2000 MVP award.
Iverson, on the other hand, was widely regarded in his day as the best “pound-for-pound” player in the NBA, a reference to how much talent was packed into his 6-0, 165-pound frame. “The Answer” went to 11 all-star games in 14 NBA seasons, won the 2001 MVP award and led the 76ers to the 2001 Finals, where they lost to O’Neal’s Lakers.
Among the many other candidates were these notable names: Maurice Cheeks, Lefty Driesell, Tom Izzo, Chris Webber, Glenn Robinson, Yao Ming, Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo and Marv Albert. The complete list can be found at hoophall.com.
The Hall of Fame released this year’s list of candidates on Dec. 21, the “Birthday of Basketball,” when Dr. James Naismith first introduced the sport he invented in 1891. Class of 2016 finalists will be announced Feb. 13 at NBA All-Star Weekend, and the Hall of Famers will be unveiled on April 4 at the Final Four in Houston.