Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson were both highly dominant players from their era, despite huge differences in actual size. The two lead the 2016 class of inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with: former Houston Rocket Center Yao Ming, Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo, former WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
This is a loaded class, with each inductee providing tremendous influence to the sport of basketball in their own respective manner. Shaq was the most physically dominant force in the history of the NBA, winning 4 NBA titles and 3 Finals MVP awards. Iverson or ‘The Answer”, was an 11-time all-star, NBA MVP and the only player under 6’0 to average over 20 points per game in their career. Iverson was also iconic off the court, with his sense of fashion setting the precedent for the current NBA dress code. Yao Ming played a pivotal part in the globalization of the NBA, drawing an enormous fan base from China. The 7’6 Center was the #1 pick in the 2002 draft, making 8 all-star appearances before having his career shortened due to injuries. Tom Izzo is the winningest coach in Michigan State hoops history, boasting 2 NCAA men’s titles to go with 7 Final Four and Big Ten conference titles each within the last 20 years. Sheryl Swoopes is often recognized as the “Female Michael Jordan” , being the first player ever signed to the WNBA, along with winning multiple MVP awards and USA Olympic gold medals. Swoopes was also the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her likeness. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been a staple within Chicago sports, owning both the Bulls and the White Sox for decades. Reinsdorf was a large factor in the MLB model of internet rights revenue sharing that the league practices today.
The 2016 HOF inductees have more accomplishments and influence on the culture than any article could truly capture. Check out some of their greatest individual career highlights below.