NBA icons Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson — as well as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo — headline the list of first-time nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016, it was formally announced Monday afternoon.
All three project as likely inductees. The Hall is starting its switch to a four-year waiting period for candidacy. Previously, players had to be retired for five full seasons before consideration.
O’Neal is a four-time NBA champion and 15-time NBA All-Star. He was MVP of the NBA in 2000. Iverson is an 11-time NBA All-Star who was MVP of the NBA in 2001. Izzo has coached in seven Final Fours. His Spartans won the national championship in 2000.
Other notable first-time nominees are Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes and Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith. Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is nominated for the second straight season.
The Hall of Fame’s finalists will be announced during NBA All-Star Weekend in February. The actual inductees will then be announced April 4, which is the day of the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament in Houston.