By Victoria Saporito
On Sept. 9, the 2016 National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall of Fame Induction was held in Springfield, Massachusetts featuring one of the most star-packed classes in recent history. The 10-member class included some of the most popular names in basketball such as Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.
O’Neal began his professional basketball career with the Orlando Magic and finished amongst the top 10 players in scoring, rebounding, blocking and shooting percentage. In 1996, O’Neal signed a seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He also went on to help the United States win a gold medal at the Olympics in Atlanta, GA. He earned a spot on the All-NBA First team in 1998 and was named the NBA’s most valuable player in 2000.
“I remember coming across a famous quote from Shaq that stood out to me after I found out he was inducted,” said senior Jason Sokol. “Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”
After being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 and spending four seasons with the organization, O’Neal was traded once again. This time, to the Pheonix Suns where he only spent one season before moving on to join the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading them to the number one seed in the playoffs in 2009.
O’Neal then became a free agent and signed with the Boston Celtics and announced his retirement in 2011.
“We did it. Nineteen years baby,” O’Neal said on his Twitter page.
In his early years, Allen Iverson was selected number one in the overall 1996 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Inverson, who differed drastically from O’Neal who stood seven feet tall and weighted 315 lbs, was still one of the NBA’s must-sees even though he was barely six feet tall.
With his speed and ability to fearlessly blow past defenders, Iverson would average 23.5 points and more than two steals a game. He went on to earn the NBA Rookie of the Year.
Iverson led the league in scoring and steals for the second consecutive season in 2001 and 2002. Shortly after, in 2006, he would go on to average a career best of 33 points per game. Iverson was then traded to the Denver Nuggets in the same year. In November of 2008, he joined the Detroit Pistons and then the Memphis Grizzlies before returning to Philadelphia in 2010.
“I grew up watching players like Iverson so I was pleased to hear that he finally made it into the Hall of Fame,” said senior, Andrew Fiscella.
Within his 14 seasons of professional basketball, Iverson was an 11-time all star leading the league in scoring four times. Iverson announced his retirement in October of 2013 after turning down an offer from the Texas Legends.
“Thank God for loving me and blessing me to be the man that I am and having no regrets for the man that I am. A man that my family loves, my teammates love and my fans love,” Iverson said in his retirement press conference.
One man who is responsible for bringing the NBA to an international level is Yao Ming.
“Oh he’s an absolute beast,” said Sokol. “He’s been in the game for so long. Even if you don’t watch basketball, everyone knows his name.”