On Monday, the NBA announced it’s 2016 Hall of Fame ballot, and what a list it is. The list of potential inductees is headlined by Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming. Also on the list is are women’s players Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes. Play-by-play Marv Albert is also on the ballot. Current Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is also eligible for the Hall of Fame. Obviously, all of these potential members were, and are great at what they do. Even if they don’t get into the Hall, they will live on in the hearts and minds of basketball fans forever. I don’t have a vote for the Hall of Fame (obviously) but my ballot would definitely include Iverson, O’Neal, Swoopes, and Izzo.
Allen Iverson was one of the best point guards to ever handle the rock. The diminutive point guard from Georgetown was drafted first overall, unfortunately by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was always in the headlines, and is remembered most for his “practice” rant and his step over of Tyronn Lue in the NBA Finals, AI’s only Finals appearance.
Iverson’s 76ers lost that series 4-1, but Iverson played well in all five games, serving as a one man team much of the season. That 2001 season, Iverson won the leagues MVP by putting in 31.4 points per game and leading the league with 2.5 steals per game.
Iverson was traded from Philly to the Denver Nuggets in 2006 and stayed there until 2008, when he was moved to the Detroit Pistons. But at that point in his career, Iverson didn’t have anything left in his tank. He ended his career in on last go round with the 76ers, before retiring in 2010.
Allen Iverson is my favorite all time player. His tenacity and refusal to let his size dictate his ability is something that I admire and respect. He was always in the news and wanted his voice to be heard. He was far from perfect on and off the court, but at the end of the day, he left it all on the court. He was ice cold down the stretch everywhere he went. AI won the Rookie of the Year, won an MVP, was an 11 time All-Star, and made an All-NBA team seven times. Iverson scored over 24,000 points in his illustrious career and definitely deserves a plaque in the Hall of Fame. The only blemish on Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame resume is the lack of a ring. However, players like “Pistol Pete” Maravich, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton and Karl Malone are all Hall of Famers without championships.
There’s not much to say about Shaquille O’Neal that has been said already. He, like Iverson, was loud on and off the court. Shaq was certainly an entertainer and a media favorite while he played. O’Neal is arguably the toughest cover in NBA history, with his size, skill and force that he used under the basket.
Shaq was the first overall pick out of LSU in 1992 by the Orlando Magic. From day one, he was one of the best players in the NBA. After four years, he teamed up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles to form one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history. With Kobe, Shaq brought home three straight championships to the Lakers. In 2000, Shaq won an MVP and was one vote away from becoming the first unanimous MVP in league history.
Unfortunately for Shaq, him and Kobe’s egos didn’t go too well together, and Shaq was moved to the Miami Heat in 2004. He would win another championship with an up and coming player named Dwayne Wade. From Miami, he bounced around from team to team. First joining the “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics before retiring.
Shaq was a character on and off the court. He was a rapper in Orlando and has an inordinate amount of nicknames, including The Diesel, The Big Shaqctus and The Big Shamrock, just to name a few. He’s starred in commercials and movies and is now on the TNT broadcast team.
Shaq was named to 15 All-Star teams, eight All-NBA First Teams, three time Finals MVP, and was the USA Male’s Basketball Player of the Year in 1994. For his career, Shaq averaged 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. He scored over 28,000 points and corralled over 13,000 rebounds in his illustrious and lengthy career in the NBA.
The bottom-line about Shaquille O’Neal’s Hall of Fame case; he’s getting in on his first try.
Although I couldn’t tell you much about the WNBA, I know Sheryl Swoopes’ story. She’s one of the greatest female basketball players the world has ever seen. Along with Lisa Leslie, she was one of the pioneers for young women who want to play the game of basketball. She was an inspiration to star players like Maya Moore.
She played her college basketball at Texas Tech and won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award in 1993. She was a star in college, and her success carried over into the WNBA with the Houston Comets.
Swoopes would play 11 years with the Comets, and she would average at least 15 points per game seven times. With Houston, she would be named to six All-Star games and would win four straight WNBA titles from 1997-2000. Swoopes would also win two scoring titles, three MVP’s (2000,2002,2005) and three Defensive Players of the Year (2000,2002,2003.
Sheryl Swoopes will go down in history as one of the best women to ever play the game. She was the first women’s basketball player to be endorsed to Nike. Swoopes excelled at the world level, winning three Olympic gold medals. On and off the court, Swoopes was in inspiration to all.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has been one of the best coaches around for quite some time. He’s still patrolling the sidelines to the Spartans, who at the moment, are the number one team in America and are undefeated.
Since he was named head coach of the university, Izzo’s squad has won one national championship(2000), made it to the 2009 national championship game, has gone to seven Final Fours, nine Elite Eights, and 13 Sweet Sixteens. He’s won seven Big Ten regular season championships and four Big Ten tournament championships. And even more impressive, MSU has made 18 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
Izzo’s best teams may be ahead of him. As mentioned, his team is undefeated this year and next year, his recruiting class currently ranks third, according to ESPN. Izzo gets the best out of his players, as they always seem to fly under the recruiting radar. His best coaching job might have been last year, where his team went to the Final Four, despite not having a star on the roster and being a seven seed.
In his career as the Spartans head coach, he’s sent 19 players to the NBA. Names including; Morris Peterson, Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, and Draymond Green.
Izzo is the king of player development and getting the best out of literally everyone on the roster. He doesn’t get many one-and-done freshman like a John Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski, but that doesn’t make him any less of a coach. Izzo may not get in this year, or even next year, but make to qualms about it, his time will definitely come to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
These players and coaches have done great things for the game of basketball. Whether its offering inspiration or just an opportunity to play, they have touched the lives of many people. But on the court and the sidelines they are great. Each has dominated the game and made the players around them better. Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Sheryl Swoopes and Tom Izzo are all Hall of Famers and I believe they will all get into the Hall in 2016.
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