NBA Rumor: Hall of Fame

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Manu Ginobili headlines Hall Of Fame's Class of 2022 candidate list

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2020 Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony delayed to 2021

Count the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as the latest institution to have its best-laid plans felled by the coronavirus. Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of the governors for the Hall, told ESPN on Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, one of the most star-studded lineups ever which includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, will be moved to spring of 2021.

In the first week of the 1999–2000 season, I stopped him coming off the floor during a timeout and asked him: “What do you think was Wilt’s greatest accomplishment?” He quickly and confidently replied: “Averaging 50 points and 30 rebounds a game.” I shook my head. “Nope, he averaged over 48 minutes a game. Do you think you could do that?” Walking out of the timeout huddle, he looked back at me. “He could do it. So can I.” So I played him 48 minutes a game until he called uncle, which wasn’t that many games into November. But he didn’t want to come to my office to tell me, so he sent John Salley as his spokesperson. I was glad to comply, as I didn’t expect this experiment to last the whole year. That wasn’t the point. We never spoke another word about it. It did, however, get him in great condition. By season’s end, he was the MVP.

Chris Forsberg: Allen Iverson on playing against his idol Michael Jordan for the first time: “Man, I wanted to be like Mike. I remember the first time I played against him. I walked out on the court and I looked at him. And, for the first time in my life, a human didn’t really look real to me. You know what I’m saying? I don’t know if you all watch the Chappelle Show, but he talked about in a certain episode where somebody’s seeing Rick James … I’m sitting there and I’m saying, ‘Man, that’s Michael. And I’m looking at him. I can’t stop looking at him. I’m looking at his shoes and I’m like, man, he’s got on Jordans! It was my Mike. It was my idol, my hero.”

Green shared why he was so pumped to witness Iverson’s speech in person and why he was so happy when Iverson agreed to take a photo with him on Instagram. He said that AI inspires him to continue to be himself and to not change for anyone. To get this pic with AI meant a lot to me right after I asked him for the pic and he said yes. The excitement I had after the pic was UNREAL… After witnessing his speech it means even more. Real always recognize Real… So to everybody who wants me to change, blame AI, because he just reminded me of something…I only know how to be me! SN: I wish he wore a tee and the chains hahaha

Yao Ming: When I heard that I was speaking first tonight, I thought that someone made a mistake. The first speaker should be the great Allen Iverson. I need practice more than he does. First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me this great honor. Your recognition has made tonight a most memorable moment for me. Although perhaps my career ended too soon, for me I treasure each and every moment. I am grateful for my time on the court, and for your recognition tonight.

Behind the scenes is still considered to be a different story, however. Having Jordan, a member of the Hall of Fame since 2009, in the building to help present his former owner seems like it would make sense and would be an ovation of good will. But according to Reinsdorf, who spoke with reporters Thursday at the HOF pre-induction press conference, His Airness was already busy. “Actually, I spoke to Michael about that when I first found out that I was going to be going in,” he said. “It turned out that he had a conflict and that he couldn’t make it … I understood. I know he’s telling the truth. I don’t think it was anything made up.

Yao said his selection is “more special” to go in the Hall of Fame with O’Neal and O’Neal called Yao among his toughest opponents, a designation he had often reserved only for former Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. “Yao’s a fabulous player, one-of-a-kind, 7-7 with excellent skills,” O’Neal said. “Nobody blocked my shot. Nobody and I played against the best. The first time I played against Yao, be blocked it three times in a row. I had to get angry and start dunking. But you can’t stop Yao. You just have to stay in front of him and hope he’ll miss. He’d get it, look at you and shoot it right over you. He was probably my toughest match up. “I’m happy for Yao. I’m happy for China, probably my favorite place.”

The day before he would be enshrined with nine others in the Class of 2016, Iverson as if nothing had changed at 41 years old and 6 ½ years removed from his last NBA game, just as unvarnished as his personality and play as flammable 76ers scoring guard that put him on the path to induction. It was like an A.I. refresher course. He missed an informal ceremony with other inductees or family members because of what Hall officials said was a travel problem, showed up for the end of the media session, was asked right away about the absence, cited a family issue, and then…. “That’s the first thing you want to know about things? God, man. Why can’t it just be great, man? Why can’t it be a monumental moment?”

It was only a light-hearted, stress-free event for everyone else, including fellow NBA headliners Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming. Not so for Iverson. A guest — not a reporter — asked him about the importance of teammates in his career, and it was over. A 15-second pause. The answer strangled in his throat. The words, when they did emerge, coming out wobbly and halting as he tried to keep his composure. “That’s the only thing that got me here,” Iverson said. “That’s the only thing that got me here is my teammates. My teammates and my coaches.

Iverson was everywhere, late to the event but, really, as if he had never left the NBA. He was pure A.I. “I can’t tell you how many, because I don’t know,” Iverson said when asked about what emotions he expects Friday night when he officially becomes historical. “But how many nights I cried from criticism and people critiquing everything about me and my life and the choices that I made and the mistakes that I made. To be able to say after all of that, still to be recognized as one of the best ever to play the game was, and it still is, just a great moment for me, my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches. I just think it’s the best. And especially my fans. You know me. The real true ones. The ones that never gave up and never felt that I wasn’t who in my heart I know I am.”

Days that O’Neal doesn’t expect to return any time soon, with a new coach and a roster full of inexperienced players. “They’re definitely going to be exciting,” O’Neal said during a Hall of Fame news conference Thursday, “but I don’t see them being a contender for a while. I mean, they’ve still got to go up against Golden State in the West, they’ve got to go up against OKC, still got to go up against Cleveland, the Rockets. So they have a long way to go to be a contender. “Every now and then they’ll make some noise and get the people in the Staples Center excited.”

Here’s the full transcript of Iverson’s response in the video above from “That’s the only thing that got me here, my teammates and my coaches. That’s the only reason I’m here. All those guys sacrificed their games and sacrificed different things for me to be honored like this. Without them, it wouldn’t have happened. “Without my coaches putting me in a position to succeed, Mike Bailey did it, my high school level, coach Thompson did it, college level. And Larry Brown molded me into an MVP and a Hall of Fame player. Without those guys, I wouldn’t be here. I didn’t do this by myself, man. There was so many people, so many fans that came in there and cheered for me night in and night out, and so many people supported me and believed in me. They made it so easy for me to believe in myself because I didn’t want to let them down. I wanted my fans and my family and my friends to be proud of me, so it was easy for me to go out there night in and night out.”

Allen Iverson wants to thank the haters, too. The former Philadelphia 76ers point guard said he will save time in his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech to mention the people who criticized him throughout his career, explaining that they are also responsible for molding the player that earned a spot in the Springfield shrine. “Even the ones that were negative in my career, obviously to try prove them wrong” was a motivation, he said Thursday after arriving late to a pre-induction press conference. “I had to overcome what they said about me. I had to overcome all that to be wearing this (Hall of Fame) jacket right now. The naysayers, they helped me, too.”

Funny at times and emotional at others, Iverson acknowledged that he made mistakes, attributing many of them to entering the league as a 21-year-old with the expectations of a historic franchise on his shoulders. Listing former Philadelphia stars like Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Billy Cunningham and Bobby Jones, Iverson lamented “having to come in there and fill all those shoes — when I was only a size 10 — and those guys are greats.” “I was a puppy,” he said. “All the mistakes I was making, I didn’t even realize I was making mistakes. I was poor all my life. Then all of the sudden you put your John Hancock down and you’re rich. I still don’t know. In the aftermath of being an NBA player, I’m still learning … I’m still finding my way.”

The now Hall of Famer was unapologetically doing him, per usual, as he appeared much more ready for a rap video shoot than a petite filet mignon on a white tablecloth. “A.I. had on white linen shorts, a white Louis Vuitton shirt with a leather collar with leather that also ran down the middle where the buttons were,” Atkins, Iverson’s longtime friend and former Nuggets teammate, said to me. “Remember those old Jay Z Reeboks? He was wearing the S. Carter low-top Reeboks with no socks and basketball shorts. There was a baseball cap and do-rag, too. “We went out to the club later that night. He left the shirt in my car and I still got it.”

“As much as he was loved and they loved to see him, you are put in situations you never been before and you don’t know how to handle it,” Atkins said. “He was the face of the NBA for years. He transcended the NBA. He was the reason for ‘The Dress Code.’ He took a team with role players and took him to the Finals. “He didn’t handle that [Memphis] situation the best, but this was a part of his growing process. He was on a team that had not done a whole lot at the time and he was a former MVP. You built up the Allen Iverson brand to what it is. You want to live that to the very last day.”

On Friday, September 9, former Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins released the following statement in recognition of O’Neal’s accomplishment: “On behalf of the DeVos Family and entire Orlando Magic organization, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Shaquille O’Neal on his well-deserved induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. With his larger-than-life personality, overpowering play, and generous community endeavors, Shaq made an indelible mark while in Magic pinstripes. Without a doubt, his great contributions to our organization and city will never, ever be forgotten.”

Jeff Van Gundy: As great of a player as Yao was, he was kind and patient with everybody. He wasn’t trying to feed an image, or cultivate a brand, or manipulate a public persona. There is a goodness about Yao that is unique, that never left him through all the pain and injuries and disappointments that accompanied his unprecedented accomplishments and successes. I have heard some people disparaging Yao’s credentials for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame, and it bothers me. Yes, I know there are important factors beyond his shortened playing career – the bridge he built to the Far East for the NBA, the massive impact he’s had on growing the game’s popularity and finances. That’s all part of the induction, yes, but no one should lose sight of this fact: Outside of Shaq, Yao Ming was the best center in the world.

But O’Neal, 44, has one more message to his peers, his former competitors and the basketball community. “I only played 30 percent of my real game,” O’Neal told The Vertical. “I had a great career, but I didn’t get a chance to showcase what I can really do. That’s because the double- and triple-teams were coming so quick, I had to dominate, dominate, dominate inside. I had the ability to step out, go around defenders, dribble by people, but I never got to show that. “I had to focus on being the most powerful, dominant player to ever play the game.”

O’Neal: When I was in Cleveland, we were in first place. Big Baby [Glen Davis] breaks my hand and I had to sit out five weeks late in the year. I come back finally in the first round of the playoffs, and we lost to Boston in the second round. I was upset. I know for a fact if I was healthy, we would have gotten it done that year and won a ring. In Boston that next year, we had the Big Three [Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen] do most of the work, and all I had to do was rebound, block shots and knock people on their asses, and [Rajon] Rondo facilitated. I liked my chances that year too.
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August 10, 2022 | 11:40 am EDT Update

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Tracy McGrady on Rudy Gobert's lack of offensive moves: What the f--- are you doing in the offseason?

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