Y’all, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined its Class of 2016 over the weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts, and IT WAS EVERYTHING! As a die hard hoops fan, to be fortunate enough to occupy the same space where Sheryl Swoopes, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and many other legends were being honored, was truly a blessing. Words alone can’t describe how I felt, so I’ll leave it to Carlton Banks to demonstrate my emotions:
Taking place at Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball by Dr. James Naismith in 1891, the night was truly unforgettable and surpassed all of the hype.
From the time my friend Mia and I arrived on the scene and made our way through the mob of fans waiting outside, and headed into the venue, it was like a who’s who of Hoops royalty.
If it was prom, NBA great, Allen Iverson, would unanimously be king. From the chants of “MVP” coming from the Sixers contingent when he touched the stage, to his hilarious and authentically A.I. speech — which included shouting out rappers Redman, Jadakiss, 2 Pac, Michael Jackson and Biggie, as musical motivators when he played in Philadelphia — he owned the night.
Sheryl Swoopes, considered the WNBA’s Greatest of All Time, served as inspiration to the women in the room when she described being the first player to sign a WNBA contract and having a signature shoe with Nike, to being a working mother, and still being at the top of her game. She reminded everyone in the room that it is still possible to “have it all” if you work hard for it. #Message
Doesn’t matter if you call him Shaq, Shaq Diesel, Shaq Fu, or Superman, Shaquille O’Neal is always going to do it big and garner lots of laughs.
The kid from Newark, NJ, discussed everything from getting recruited by LSU, his great years in Orlando, Phoenix, Miami, and of course, the Lakers (until his former teammate, Kobe allegedly helped usher him out), and what’s next for Dr. O’Neal (make no mistake, Shaq is degree’d up!)
My friend Mia and I also got to meet NBA referee, Violet Palmer. She’s the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game. She’s a real sweetheart, too.
And Earl “The Pearl” Monroe:
Overall, the weekend just affirmed why I love basketball more than any other sport. And if you happen to be in Springfield, Massachusetts, don’t forget to check out the HoopHall.
Congratulations to all of the new Hall of Famers who were inducted this weekend!
Photos: The Sportstyle/ Video: Giphy, Hoop Hall