There are a few things that are undeniably true about the 2016 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees: they were incredible players, they changed the game, and they had awesome nicknames. The Answer. The Big Diesel. The Great Wall. Now, some of the most recognizable players in the history of basketball will take their place among the game’s best as Hall of Famers.
Allen Iverson – The Answer
Allen Iverson was pound-for-pound one of the most lethal scorers the game has ever seen. Despite his diminutive frame, he became one of the game’s most difficult players to guard with his quickness, athleticism, and patented crossover. He was one of the most effective score-first point guards at a time when pass-first point guards were much more traditional.
Iverson led the league in scoring four times and was named MVP in 2001. Iverson was an All-Star in 11 of his 14 seasons and averaged 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. You can check out some of Iverson’s crazy crossovers and other career highlights here.
Shaquille O’Neal – The Big Diesel
On the other end of the size spectrum, one of the game’s biggest players – literally and figuratively – joins Iverson as a 2016 inductee. Shaquille O’Neal comes in at 7’1” and was listed at 325 pounds by the end of his playing career. He spent 19 years in the league, winning four championships, and appearing in 15 All-Star games. He averaged 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game over the course of his career.
Shaq dominated the league with his massive size, but it was his larger-than-life personality that made him a fan favorite. The Big Diesel now works as a media personality, providing basketball analysis with a blend of humor and insight. Watch the top-10 Shaq-tastic highlights from his playing days here.
Yao Ming – The Great Wall
Shaq was big, but even he looked small compared to Yao Ming. At 7’6”, Yao Ming was the tallest active player while in the league, and he used that frame to average 19 points and 9.2 rebounds per game during his career, which was cut short due to injury issues.
As an 8-time All-Star, his success helped pave the way for foreign athletes, and he is still considered one of the best international players of all time. His popularity in China was instrumental in growing the game of basketball on a global level, which is perhaps his biggest contribution to the game. Check out Yao Ming’s top-10 highlights here.
Sheryl Swoopes – The Queen
Dubbed The Queen of the Court, Swoopes is considered to be the female equivalent to Michael Jordan. Her long list of accolades includes four championships, six All-Star Game appearances, and three MVP Awards. She is widely considered one of the most influential female athletes in the game.
Swoopes is regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time and is credited with helping grow the women’s game to where it is today. Check out her impact on the sport in this video feature.