Basketball immortality to require less wait time

Springfield, Massachusetts is the home of the one place that all basketball players dream of becoming a part of: the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Earlier this week, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reported that the rule change would allow players to enter the Hall of Fame after five calendar years, opposed to five NBA seasons. Under the current process, between retirement, election and enshrinement, the athlete usually waits six years for completion.

An official announcement is expected later this week and a change like this would put three all-time greats on the ballot a year early: Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson.

Shaquille O’Neal

Arguably the most physically dominant center since Wilt Chamberlain, Shaq is a no doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer. Spending 19 seasons in the NBA with six different teams, Diesel captured four NBA titles, an MVP, appeared in 15 all-star games and was a 14-time all-NBA team member. His 7’1″, 325lb frame is what separated Shaq from the pack. He was a matchup nightmare for everyone and he was really athletic for someone of his size. When Shaq teamed up with Kobe on the Lakers in 1996-97, greatness was restored to LA and Shaq really took a lot of the pressure away from Kobe, allowing him to blossom into the incredible talent that he is. The playstyle that Shaq had, his ability to overpower anyone in the post, was the last of its kind as all of the modern centers are all stretch bigs.

Allen Iverson

The Answer is, in my opinion, the best pound-for-pound player to ever play in the NBA. Iverson had a small frame, no doubt, but he was a relentless competitor and played way bigger than he was. Standing six feet tall and weighing around 165 pounds, Iverson’s body type is not one that reflects the number he put up. His crossover was incredibly lethal and he could get to the lane and finish with incredible ease, never shying away from contact. His play style was one that was seldom seen during his playing days, a point guard with a scoring mentality, but Iverson helped pave the way for the new breed of point guard that we’re seeing in the present day NBA. Lastly, Iverson was not afraid to be himself. He was urban and might have come off as a thug to some people because of the braids, tattoos, baggy clothes, etc. Being comfortable in his own skin, he was able to help merge the communities of hip-hop and basketball.

Yao Ming

It’s unfortunate how short Yao’s playing career was, but Yao singlehandedly made the NBA very popular in his homeland of China. Before Yao, there was no player of Chinese descent who had success in the NBA. The eight-time all-star was a guaranteed 20p/10r performance every night and his presence was almost always felt. His 7’6″ frame protected the paint like the Great Wall and despite not being a great shot blocker, Houston’s defense was top-10 in every year of his career except his last. Where Yao had an even bigger impact was in Asia where he was a huge contributor to the globalization of the NBA; basketball in China is huge now thanks to Yao. Along with the love for the game being a lot more prevalent, the competition in China is starting to elevate as well and it won’t be long until there are plenty of outstanding Chinese prospects. Whether he gets in as a player or contributor, Yao is another first-ballot Hall of Famer.