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Report: Basketball Hall of Fame altering policy, could enshrine Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming next year

Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings - NBA Global Games Beijing

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15: Yao Ming (R) former NBA basketball star talk with Shaquille O’Neal during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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Allen Iverson will reportedly be eligible for the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame class, because his brief stint in Turkey following his NBA career won’t count.

He could have unexpected company.

Scott Howard-Cooper of

An official announcement is expected this week. But people with knowledge of the plans said the Hall has finalized the adjustment to shorten the wait time from five seasons in retirement to four before a player can be nominated, wanting to avoid what becomes a sixth year by the time voting is complete near the end of the NBA regular season. Under the new plan, voting and potential enshrinement would come after five calendar years, rather than five NBA seasons.

This would move certain Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and possible Hall of Famer Yao Ming up from the class of 2017 to the class of 2016. Fringe candidates like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jason Williams, Antonio McDyess and Peja Stojakovic would also get consideration a year earlier.

Why the change?

The class of 2016 was shaping up to be fairly weak. The Hall has recently inducted a few strong candidates who’d been left out, and the top NBA newcomer to the ballot before Iverson’s inclusion would have been Michael Finley. That wouldn’t have drawn much positive attention to the Hall.

Shaq, Iverson and maybe Yao will certainly garner attention (and money).

On the merits, I’m pretty neutral on this change. Four, five, six years after retirement for enshrinement – it’s all arbitrary. For what it’s worth, the Baseball Hall of Fame – with what’s known as a five-year waiting period – actually inducts first-ballot players six years after they retire. The process takes time.

The Basketball Hall of Fame’s biggest problem is its emphasis on people besides NBA players – referees, college coaches contributors. This new policy will indirectly help in the short term, but the underlying issue remains.