The 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame class was full of record breaking, championship winning, and game changing talent. The induction speeches were full of emotional sincerity, having jolly, witty, somber and grateful tones.
Shaquille O’Neal, Sheryl Swoopes, Allen Iverson and Cumberland Posey were among those that were honored on Friday, September 8. The event brought exposure to the history of the players and their impact on basketball.
Swoopes talked about her successful college and pro career during her speech. She aided the Texas Tech women’s basketball team to a NCAA championship title in 1993; she is the only person in college basketball history with score 47 points in a NCAA championship game.
“The thrill, joy and excitement of getting an opportunity to play at that magnitude, win the championship and represent so many people was a dream come true,” Swoopes said in regards to her college championship run.
In 1997, Swoopes became the first women to sign a contract for the WNBA. She played for the Houston Comets and helped the franchise become the first ‘basketball dynasty.’ The Comets won the first four WNBA championship titles with Swoopes contributions.
Los Angeles is all too familiar with the career of Shaquille O’Neal from his stint with the Lakers. O’Neal kept his speech humorous, not afraid to make fun of himself or past teammates.
“Kobe Bryant: A guy that would push me and help me win three titles in a row,” O’Neal said. “But also help me get pushed off the team and traded to Miami.”
O’Neal attended Louisiana State University (LSU) and became an AP National Player of the Year.
O’Neal became the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft to the Orlando Magic; he became Rookie of the Year. In 1996, he joined the Lakers, leading him to three championships, three finals MVP honors, and a NBA MVP honor.
In the early 2000s, Iverson was a force in the NBA. His talent, hip-hop-inspired attire, and elaborate cornrow designs made him a distinguishable and influential player of his era.
Iverson humbly thanked several people in his life for influencing his career, recalling a story of how a walk-on player taught him the crossover during his college years at Georgetown.
During his junior years at Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, Iverson assisted the football and basketball team to state championships.
Iverson earned a scholarship from Georgetown and became Big East Rookie of the Year. Iverson also earned NBA MVP in 2001 and an All-Star MVP in 2001 and 2005.
Posey is a pioneer of professional basketball, becoming a stand-out in the sport before there were organized teams.
“My grandfather certainly placed a great value on winning,” Posey’s granddaughter Nancy Boxill said. “But what he valued even as much was the opportunity to bring his best to a shared effort in achieving a goal.”
basPosey is now in the basketball and baseball Hall of Fame. He became a major architect for the Negro National League. For basketball, Posey was the first African American to play varsity for Penn State.
He operated and played for the Loendi Big Five, a team from the Black Fives Era, and helped the team win four Black national titles.