Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming have joined the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and became the basketball immortals!!!
After a very special and a very emotional induction ceremony, the three NBA legends who have significantly raised the popularity of the NBA worldwide, became the members of the most privileged company as the 2016 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame members.
Yao Ming, or should we call him „Mr. China“, was drafted by the Houston Rockets as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft. He is probably the biggest reason why the NBA nowadays has so many fans in China and why the basketball has become one of the most popular sports in China. His successful NBA career has opened the Chinese market for the NBA players who failed to sign a contract with the NBA teams. Because of Ming, the Chinese basketball teams are now importing increased numbers of NBA players. How attractive the basketball in China is, shows the latest trend that even high school players from the USA are playing in the CBL. The first one to do so was Emmanuel Mudiay, while DeAndre Ayton is considering to follow his steps as well. During his NBA career, Yao Ming has played only for the Houston Rockets, averaging 19,0ppg and 9,0 rpg, while appearing at 8 All-star games. Unfortunately, consistent injury problems have forced him to retire at the age of 30. He will be remembered as one of the greatest international players that has played in the NBA.
Probably the most emotional part of the night was when Allen Iverson took the stage. One of the fans most adorable and favorite players of all times evoked some of his greatest NBA moments which provoked a laughter and smile at the same time in the audience. The emotions reached the highest peak when he talked about his beginnings, his mother, Coach John Thompson and at the end when he gave the Hall of Fame trophy to his wife. He gave special thanks to his former Georgetown University coach John Thompson whom he thanked for saving his life. In the end, in his style, Allen Iverson thanked 2Pac, Biggy Smalls and Jadakiss, which only shows that he always was, still is and always will be connected to the streets, which is probably why everyone liked him so much.
The last, but not least, Shaq, dominated the stage, just like he used to dominate the NBA courts. After thanking everyone who, at some way, played an important role in his life and NBA career, Shaq turned his speech into a Stand Up comedy show. After making jokes about himself, Shaq told some funny memories of Phil Jackson and his silly methods of calming down. His speech could not be held, without mentioning one of the guys that he has been linked to for so many years, KOBE BRYANT. In his own way, Shaq first thanked Kobe for helping him win three NBA rings with the LA Lakers, but in the end also said that Kobe chased him out of LA and was the main reason why Shaq was traded to Miami.
Alongside Ming, Iverson and Shaq, 7 other members were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
- Longtime Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who spent 22 years as a college coach of the MSU, taking them to 7 NCAA Final Fours and winning the NCAA title back in 2000.
- Sheryl Swoopes, a former WNBA star, who was the first ever female basketball player signed by the WNBA, winning 4 WNBA titles and 3 MVP awards.
- John McClendon (posthumous), NAIA coaching legend, and the first African American professional basketball coach, who coached the Cleveland Pipers in the ABL back in 1961-1962.
- Darrell Garretson (posthumous), former referee.
- ZelmoBeaty (posthumous), two time NBA All-Star and three time ABA All-Star.
- Cumberland Posey (posthumous), who won 4 consecutive Colored Basketball World Championships 1920-1923.
- Jerry Reinsdorf, longtime Chicago Bulls franchise owner, who he bought back in 1985.
Words By: Admir Aljic