It was bound to happen, but today it’s official. Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal are headed to the Hall.
The news came down a short while ago, and they will be joining Yao Ming, who was revealed as a HOF-elect last week, in the Class of 2016.
Though Shaq is the only member of the trio to win an NBA Championship–he actually won 4, three with Los Angeles, one with Miami–each player left a lasting impact on the league, and changed it forever, both on the court and off it. We’ve already touched on Yao Ming revolutionizing the center position, but Shaq was arguably the most dominant player to ever be positioned at the 5. He was a monstrous presence, blocking shots with almost rude fervor and destroying defenders with his mammoth dunks and unruly, elbow-throwing post moves. He was larger than life to many for several years, and was quite possibly the most dominant player of his generation, despite his inability to shoot free throws effectively or develop a mid-range game. That just speaks to how unbelievable he was in the paint.
Allen Iverson on the other hand had an equally mammoth impact on the game, but in a decidedly different way. Iverson was a relentless scorer, and played with more heart than many had ever seen. He averaged 26.7 points per game, was named an All-Star 11 times, won the 2001 regular season MVP award, and took home the scoring champion four times. His disregard for politically correct behavior, unwritten fashion rules and pleasantries made him one of the league’s most polarizing players, and an icon in the process. Kids wanted to be like him, women fantasized about him, and his style of play has been emulated by countless combo guards in the years since he left the league. This year’s class is also fitting, as Shaq and Iverson met in one of the most memorable NBA Finals match-ups of the 2000’s, in 2001, when Iverson stepped over Tyronn Lue in Game 1, but Shaq and Kobe Bryant then rung off four consecutive wins to earn their first and only three-peat.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Celebration and Ring Ceremony will take place later this year, on September 10 in Springfield, Massachusetts.