2016 will be the first time that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. will enlist its four-year waiting period for candidacy into the hallowed space. Today, it was announced that Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Sheryl Swoopes are some of the top candidates for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We wanted to get more in line with some of the other Halls, and it just seemed like too long of a wait for some of the individuals,” Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo said on ESPN. Previously, the Basketball Hall of Fame required players to be retired for five full seasons before they can be nominated. Because of the enshrinement calendar, that meant players would be out of the game for six years before they could be inducted.
This gives way to some of the decades most influential players to be eligible for next year’s enshrinement in the Hall. Iverson isn’t only a former NBA MVP and one of the most dominant scorers in the history of the NBA despite his small stature, he is one of the most influential players in popular culture. Iverson helped popularize corn rows, shooting sleeves and crossover dribbles as well as being an 11-time NBA All Star.
Shaquille O’ Neal is one of the most physically dominant centers in the history of basketball, a four-time NBA Champion, and one of the biggest crossover stars in the history of professional sports. Yao Ming was the #1 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and helped spearhead the growth of the NBA in China. Swoopes was one of the pioneering stars in the early days of the WNBA. She won three MVP awards and four consecutive championships with the Houston Comets to go with her national title at Texas Tech and three Olympic gold medals. The women’s screening committee will be allowed to name four finalists instead of two starting this year.
Hall of Fame finalists will be announced during NBA All-Star Weekend in February, and inductees will be unveiled April 4 in Houston on the day of the NCAA championship game. The induction ceremony for 2016 honorees will be held in September.
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