The 2016 NBA Hall of Fame inductee class had their own big 3 and offered plenty of variety in their speeches.
Yao Ming, Allen Iverson and Shaquille O’Neal were the NBA Big 3 inducted to the Hall of Fame class of 2016. As each took to the stage this trio offered speeches ranging from tearful thanks, heartfelt emotion and humorous antidotes.
Ming’s opening speech showcased why Houston Rockets fans are endeared to the gentle giant.
Iverson took to the stage to the loudest and longest ovation of the night. Julius Irving, Larry Brown and John Thompson welcomed the Answer to the Hall. Iverson’s speech was extremely touching, moving many attendees to tears.
Sep 09, 2016; Springfield, MA, USA; Allen Iverson speaks at the Springfield Symphony Hall during the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
‘The Answer” was visibly nervous, fighting back tears to thank Georgetown coach John Thompson for saving his life. Notably, a high school incident at a bowling alley ended with his arrest. Video footage later revealed Iverson had nothing to do with the frickas. But, by that point colleges (and there were many) rescinded their scholarship offers to both football and basketball.
Lengthy Thank You List:
Dean Barry a walk-on at Georgetown who A.I. specifically honored for teaching him his patented cross over. In hindsight, the crossover is Iverson’s most notable move.
When Iverson spoke of his reverence for Michael Jordan he prefaced the meeting by an analogy of Dave Chappelle meeting Rick James skit. Iverson said his first time playing Jordan was like looking at a ghost. A.I. noted he felt like he could see Jordan’s aura, saying the experience was that surreal.
Additionally Iverson singled out Tyronne Lue going to Washington and collecting a $5 million pay day after the Philly – Lakers Finals series. During the game Lue kept fouling A.I. who told him we are going to come to blows if you don’t stop. Iverson noted “the only reason you got paid that money was for chasing me around.” The Answer drew another huge laugh saying Lue’s response was akin to what he would have said “Thank you”.
Another key moment was when Iverson thanked the fans of Philly. This resulted in the upper tear of the auditorium exploding with their approval. Many Sixers fans made the trek to Springfield to see their favorite son enshrined.
Julius Irving, Bill Russell, Alonzo Mourning and Isaiah Thomas welcomed the final speaker, O’Neal to the stage.
Shaq spoke to each of the players he asked to the stage citing how they were especially relevant to him. He therefore noted Zo’s toughness, Thomas’ friendship and business advice, and Russell’s insight. Finally he thanked Dr J who he pinpointed as his idol.
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Much of Shaq’s speech was like a stand-up routine. For example, his mother arguing with a bus driver over an extremely big toddler being just 2 years old.
O’Neal went on to discuss his time in College, and then in the pro’s with the Magic, Lakers, Heat, Suns and Celtics. Additionally O’Neal thanked copious teammates.
Shaq’s speech reminded me of Michael Jordan’s 2009 induction. There must be something that goes along with being the best player of their generation as both these players doled out thanks, but made sure to give shots to individuals who had motivated them, often via negatives.
Conspicuously absent from O’Neal’s thank you list was Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith or Charles Barkley. Consequently, he did thank his boss at Turner yet it was odd he left out the people he works with daily. It seems like those omissions were purposeful although it’s unlikely Shaq would have any particular reason to not thank his co-panelists.
Ultimately, the 2016 NBA Hall of Fame ceremony was punctuated by Ming’s grace, Iverson’s genuine, heartfelt speech and O’Neal’s humorous antidotes.