Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming were amongst 10 inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame during ceremonies held in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Joining the three former stars of the NBA were Sheryl Swoopes, a three-time WNBA champion, Darrell Garretson an NBA referee for 27 years, Tom Izzo the coach at Michigan State, John McLendon a coach who broke racial barriers, Jerry Reinsdorf the owner of the Chicago Bulls and stars from the pioneer era Cumberland Posey and Zelmo Beaty.
Yao, the 7-foot-6 basketball giant form China said he had dreamed of this a very long time. He is now the tallest ever player to be induced in the Hall of Fame.
Yao averaged 19.2 points and 9 rebounds per game during his playing years with the Houston Rockets. In his eight seasons in the league, he became the sport’s ambassador and continued promoting the sport after being forced to retired five years ago due to foot injuries.
Yao said his playing days with Houston were some of the best days of his life.
O’Neal was a four-time champion in the NBA and said he was proud to be a part of this basketball fraternity. He said growing up he dreamed he would once be as good as the legendry Dr. J or Julius Erving.
O’Neal said he spent three seasons thinking Yao was not able to speak English, then was dazzled at moves the superstar made and said good move Yao and Yao responded with, “Thanks my brother.”
He said for three seasons he never spoke to the Chinese player thinking Yao did not understand English.
Iverson, a guard who helped his Philadelphia 76ers reach the NBA finals during 2001 called Shaq one of the league’s most dominating players to ever play.
Iverson praised John Thompson his coach at Georgetown University. He thanked Thompson for saving his life following a troubled youth.
Reinsdorf spoke of the 1990s, which was the Bulls’ Michael Jordan era in which the team won six NBA titles during eight seasons.
Iverson said that Jordan was his idol, as he wanted to be like Mike.
Sheryl Swoopes won four titles in the WNBA and became the league’s first star.
She told those attending that if you world hard, do not give up and believe, your dreams do come true.