One of the most dominant players in NBA history and one of its most iconic figures were selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced Monday.
Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson, who combined for two league MVP’s, 26 all-star appearances, and three scoring titles, among other accomplishments, lead the ten-member class, which includes the likes of Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo, former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, and longtime NBA referee Darrell Garretson.
Coach John McLendon and former players Zelmo Beaty and Cumberland Posey will also be enshrined during the Sept. 9 ceremony, along with Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
O’Neal, the NBA’s seventh all-time leading scorer and eighth all-time leading rebounder, is one of four players in league history to win three Finals MVP awards, joining Michael Jordan (6), Tim Duncan (3), and Magic Johnson (3).
Iverson was known for his flashy style both on and off the court. An outspoken player who was the driving force behind former league commissioner David Stern’s strict dress code, Iverson was a rare breed. He pioneered the game with his cornrows and tattoos and replicated his game with flashy moves and style, doing so while often times being the smallest player on the court at only six feel tall.
Izzo has reached seven Final Four appearances with his Michigan State Spartans and surpassing over 520 career victories since arriving at the school in 1995.
Ming was also a pioneer for the game in his own right. He helped spread the NBA to Chinese culture, where he grew up. He was an eight-time all-star for the Houston Rockets and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. His promising career was cut short due to injury, missing 159 of a possible 164 games during his final two seasons in the NBA.
Swoopes was the first player signed by the WNBA. She won three MVP awards and four titles during her time with the Houston Comets, Seattle Storm and Tulsa Shock. She also scored 47 points during Texas Tech’s run to the Final Four in 1993.
Reinsdorf became owner of the Bulls in 1985, overseeing a franchise that won six championships under Michael Jordan and building a team that dominated the 1990’s.
Garretson was the NBA’s chief of officiating for 17 years and worked over 1,700 games, including 269 playoff games and 41 Finals games.
McLendon, who died in 1999, was the first African American coach in a professional league, coaching in the ABL after enrolling as the University of Kansas’ first black student in the physical education department.
Beaty played eight seasons in the NBA and four in the ABA, averaging a double-double for his career.
Posey, who is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was one of the most dominant players of his time. He played from the early 1900s through the mid 1920s.
The ceremony will take place Sept. 9 in Springfield, Massachusetts.