(The Sports Xchange) - Shaquille O‘Neal, Allen Iverson, Tom Izzo and modern-day basketball pioneers Yao Ming and Sheryl Swoopes headline the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announced Monday.
Longtime Chicago Bulls owner and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will be enshrined and posthumous inductees are NBA referee Darrell Garretson, John McLendon, the first African-American coach in professional basketball, and former stars Zelmo Beaty and Cumberland Posey.
O‘Neal was an unstoppable force as a 7-foot-1 dunking machine who was named a 15-time NBA All-Star. He was a three-time NBA Finals MVP, won four NBA titles and was the NBA MVP in 2000. He was one of the first crossover stars to go beyond endorsements, earning regular roles on the big screen.
Iverson was a brash point guard who averaged 26.7 points despite standing just 6 feet tall. The 11-time All-Star known as “The Answer” was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft. He was named rookie of the year, won four scoring titles was the 2001 NBA MVP, leading the Sixers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to O‘Neal’s Lakers.
Izzo won a national title at Michigan State in 2000, has led the Spartans to seven Final Fours and earned 524 career victories since becoming the head coach at Michigan State in 1995.
Swoopes was the first WNBA player signed and won three MVP awards and four WNBA titles.
Ming, the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 of the Houston Rockets and a transcendent 7-foot-6 center, is recognized as much for opening the door to international stars as his statistics.
Ming’s career ended early because of foot injuries but he averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in eight seasons but played only five games combined in his final two seasons.
Reinsdorf also owns the Chicago White Sox but is identified for elevating the Bulls into consistent winners during the pairing of Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. The Bulls won six NBA championships in the 1990s.
Garretson was an NBA referee for 27 years and spent 17 years as the league’s chief of officiating.
Editing by Frank Pingue