Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal and four-time NBA scoring champion Allen Iverson were among 14 finalists for 2016 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Friday in Toronto.
“Shaq” and Iverson were among seven first-time nominees from the women’s and North American selection committees for consideration for the 2016 Hall of Fame group to be announced April 4 in Houston and enshrined in September at the sporting shrine in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Retired Chinese star Yao Ming, eligible for consideration this year for the first time, falls under the Hall of Fame’s direct elect international committee and that group announces only enshrinees, that coming in April.
Finalists need at least 18 of 24 votes from a selection panel to be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Joining 15-time All-Star O’Neal and nine-time All-Star Iverson among first-time finalists were 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson, four-time Women’s NBA champion Sheryl Swoopes, Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo, African-American coaching pioneer John McLendon and the Wayland Baptist University women’s team.
Repeat finalists hoping to qualify for the Hall of Fame this time include three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, US college coaches Charles “Lefty” Driesell, Muffet McGraw, Eddie Sutton and Bo Ryan and US high school coaches Robert Hughes and Leta Andrews.
“Each finalist in the Class of 2016 has had a distinct impact on the game we all love,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “Selecting the enshrinees for the Class of 2016 will be a challenging task.”
Three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player O’Neal played 19 seasons, averaging 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots a game. He was the NBA’s most accurate shooter from the floor for 10 seasons and ranks seventh on the NBA all-time scoring list. “Shaq” also helped the US team win 1996 Olympic gold.
Iverson averaged 26.7 points and 6.2 assists a game over 14 NBA seasons and was voted the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2001, when he led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals only to be beaten by the O’Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers.