The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Friday at the All-Star weekend festivities in Toronto completed its 2016 list and disclosed the 14 finalists for election in the Class of ‘2016, highlighted by Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
They’ll find out if they are to be Hall of Famers this year when the final results are revealed April 4 at the Final Four in Houston.
Also learning whether they’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame then are former Bulls and team ambassador Toni Kukoc, the late Bulls broadcaster and first Bulls coach Johnny Kerr, former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and Bulls managing partner Jerry Reinsdorf.
The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. quietly changed its eligibility rules last December to shortened the waiting period by a year. That made O’Neal eligible this year along with former Houston Rockets All-Star Yao Ming.
Yao became eligible in the so called “direct elect” category in international nominations. Kukoc is in that category as well with Yao the favorite to be elected this year. That international group of nominees includes former NBA players like Vlade Divac and Dino Radja. The direct-elects means one nominee will be named from that group in the April 4 announcement.
There also are direct-elects for Contributor and Veterans committees.
Loyola of Chicago, which won the 1963 NCAA championship in a game considered historic for its crack at racial barriers against Mississippi State, is among the nominees in the Veterans Committee. Others in that group include NBA and ABA stars like Zelmo Beaty, Joe Caldwell, Mack Calvin, Lou Hudson, Kenny Sailors, Jim Loscutoff, Kenny Sears, Dick Van Ardsdale and Tom Van Ardsdale, Charlie Scott, Willie Naulls and Bevo Francis.
Reinsdorf, Krause and Kerr are in the direct-elect contributor category along with a group that includes broadcaster Marv Albert, Curt Gowdy, Marty Glickman, Marty Blake, Viv Bubas, Red Klotz, Billy Packer, Donnie Walsh, Jim Valvano, Johnny Most and Al Attles.
The Hall of Fame also announced the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement award for former Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and the Cury Gowdy media awards in broadcasting to Jay Bilas of ESPN and David Aldridge of TNT and formerly the Washington Post.
Other finalists for enshrinement include NBA official Darrell Garretson, NAIA coach John McLendon, former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, Texas high school coach Robert Hughes, former Suns player and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, Eddie Sutton from Oklahoma State and Bo Ryan from Wisconsin. Women’s committee finalists include Texas high school coach Leta Andrews, Muffet McGraw from Notre Dame, WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes and currently Loyola of Chicago and Wayland Baptist U.