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Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

got milk? Rookie Challenge

DENVER - FEBRUARY 18: (L-R)All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal #34 of the Miami Heat and Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers sit courtside during the got milk? Rookie Challenge, part of 2005 NBA All-Star Weekend at Pepsi Center on February 18, 2005 in Denver, Colorado. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Yao Ming was directly elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

Now, after another round of voting, he has NBA company.

Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson were elected. So was Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, former referee Darell Garretson and former player Zelmo Beaty. The only NBA finalist not elected was Kevin Johnson, who has bigger problems.

Shaq and Iverson are no-brainers.

Shaq dominated, maybe more so than anyone but Wilt Chamberlain. No center in his era could handle his massive size and nimbleness in the post. He became a star with the Magic and megastar with the Lakers, whom he led to three championships. Shaq moved around more later in his career, winning another title with the Heat.

Iverson inspires more debate, but all but his biggest detractors acknowledge he belongs in the Hall. The fearless and small guard was a scoring dynamo, though often too inefficient. He got plenty of steals, though gambled for many of them. His fans don’t care about the shortcomings. He changed the game with his style and swagger – helping to make cornrows and armbands popular. He was the NBA trendsetter of his day, and his influence is still being felt in a league full of players who grew up cheering for him.

Reinsdorf won six titles with Michael Jordan. Garretson refereed for a while. I have a hard enough time assessing how the Basketball (read: not NBA) Hall of Fame judges NBA players. There’s even less clear criteria for owners and refs, so I won’t begin to guess.

Beaty got in through the Veterans Committee, which also considered “1964 State Dept Basketball Ambassadors” and Tennessee A&I. So, understanding that committee’s criteria is even more of a challenge. Beaty made the 1966 and 1968 All-Star games with the St. Louis Hawks then played in the ABA. Though he was a nice player in his time, I don’t see anything Hall of Fame-worthy in his playing career (besides his name).

But I’ve long given up on trying to understand the Basketball Hall of Fame. At least voters got it right with Shaq and Iverson.

Also elected: Tom Izzo, Sheryl Swoopes, Cumberland Posey and John McClendon.