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February 12, 2016

David Aldridge

Jerry Colangelo

Allen Iverson

Kevin Johnson

Rick Kamla

Yao Ming

Shaquille O'Neal

Toronto, Ontario

RICK KAMLA: Thank you all very much. Hello again, basketball fans. Welcome to everybody watching around the world on NBA TV, NBA.com and the NBA app. We are live from All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Canada. I look around, so many important people, so many important people behind. You're going to hear some great names and some great stories here today. It's a great honor for me to host this event.

The Hall of Fame is a wonderful museum and a center for the living history of basketball, the game we all love. During today's historic event, we'll learn important and breaking news. First, we'll discuss some very exciting changes to the Hall of Fame election process that were announced in December, and the amazing list of nominees for this year's class.

Next, we will learn the names of the Hall of Fame annual award winners to be recognized at this year's enshrinement in September. There is more good news to report today. The Hall of Fame and the Zales Corporation have just agreed to a multi-year deal for the production of the Hall of Fame class rings. Congratulations to all concerned. We welcome Zales to the Hall of Fame family.

Finally, we'll reveal the names of the finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class, the class of 2016. What we will not announce today are the class of 2016 members from the Direct Elect Committees. Those committees include the early African-American pioneers, veterans, international and contributors committee. The class members chosen by those committees will be introduced with the full class at the Final Four in Houston on Championship Monday on April 4th.

There are many noteworthy nominees for these committees, including Yao Ming, Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, Marv Albert, Mannie Jackson, Johnny Most, Jerry Reinsdorf, along with many more. If you want a complete list of the nominees for these categories, it's available here for the press or online at hoophall.com.

Before we begin today's program, I want to introduce the remarkable group of people up here on stage with us here in Toronto. From the Hall of Fame class of 2004, we have Jerry Colangelo; from the class of 1987, Rick Barry; from the class of 2015, Dick Bavetta; from the classes of 1979 and 2010, Oscar Robertson; from the class of 1997, Alex English; from the class of 1999, Wayne Embry; from the class of 1996, The Iceman, George Gervin; from the class of 2012, he's right behind me, Reggie Miller; from the class of 2000, Isiah Thomas. That's a sign of love, Isaiah. From the class of 2015, Spencer Haywood; from the class of 1991, Nate "Tiny" Archibald. And I saved the best for last, from the class of 1974, Bill Russell.

Before we begin today's program, I want to call up one of our legends to get his thoughts today. First, Chairman Colangelo, would you join us? I'd also like to invite one of the nominees from the international committee, Mr. Yao Ming. Ladies and gentlemen, Yao Ming. Let's hear it.

Jerry, first of all, I'd like you to share your thoughts on the new process that allows players like Yao Ming and others to be eligible this year.

JERRY COLANGELO: First of all, we took a hard look at what other Halls of Fame are doing in terms of a wait period, and we were on the far end the wrong way. So in reducing the wait period from five years to four years, it resulted in this particular class a few people being eligible to be nominated and hopefully be elected. So Yao Ming happens to be an individual who has had a remarkable impact on the game of basketball in so many ways. Internationally, he's been a real ambassador for the game, and he's very worthy of that nomination.

RICK KAMLA: No doubt about it. Thank you, Jerry, very much.

Yao, how does it feel to be nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame?

YAO MING: Of course, very excited and I feel very honored to be here and to be nominated by the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a symbol for all of the basketball people who fight on the court or off the court. And for myself, it's so exciting and I'm very appreciative for the community and all the people who have chosen me.

RICK KAMLA: Maybe one last time, Shaq's right over there, we can jump center one last time, right, Yao?

YAO MING: Well, I just worry about when we stand on the podium together, can that floor handle our weight?

RICK KAMLA: Yao, thank you very much. Congratulations.

YAO MING: Thank you.

RICK KAMLA: Yao Ming, Jerry Colangelo.

Now, on to today's exciting news. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame annually gives its Curt Gowdy Media Award to two deserving members of the media, one for print and one for electronic media. This gentleman graduated from the famed basketball powerhouse, DeMatha Catholic High School, and American University, before writing for the Washington Post for nine years, covering many beats, including Georgetown, the Washington Bullets, and the 1992 Olympics. He also wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2004 to 2008 and worked for eight years for ESPN primarily covering the NBA before moving to his role as the leading NBA reporter for Turner Sports and TNT. And he does terrific work for us on NBA TV and NBA.com, selected as the winner of the 2016 Curt Gowdy Award for print media, David Aldridge. I see the humility written all over your face, DA.

This gentleman was an outstanding player, a four-year starter at Duke. He helped his team play for a National Championship in 1986. After a stint in coaching while earning a law degree, he joined ESPN in 1995, serving as the leading basketball analyst and studio co-host for the network, including a leading role on college game night, Saturday prime time, and "College Gameday." One of the brightest and most outspoken voices representing the game, he has twice been named the Best Analyst in College Hoops by "Sports Illustrated." Please join me in recognizing the 2016 Curt Gowdy Award winner for electronic media, Jay Bilas.

We are now proud to announce the winner of the 2016 John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the single greatest honor presented by the Hall of Fame outside of enshrinement. This year's winner has dedicated an extraordinary life of service and success to the collegiate sport. This native of South Orange, New Jersey, became the Commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference before taking on his role as Commissioner of the Big Ten in 1989, and he still holds that position today. His visionary leadership led to the conference expansion, the creation of the Big Ten Network and the remarkable management of 42 different team sports.

Also worth mentioning, he championed Title IX participation, resulting in more than 4,300 female student-athletes playing Big Ten sports. Under his stewardship, Big Ten teams have won National Championships in 28 different sports. Join me in recognizing the winner of the 2016 John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, Jim Delany.

DA, would you mind joining us here on the stage for a question or two? Ladies and gentlemen, David Aldridge. So DA, I speak for everybody, congratulations first, my friend. I speak for all of us at Turner Sports when I say how proud of you we are. What does this mean to you?

DAVID ALDRIDGE: It's hard to say. I look at the list of people that have won this award, it's everybody that I feel has been great for the media and reporting, people that I admire. Jackie [MacMullan], Sam Smith and Dave DuPree, and the great Phil Jasner got this award. For anybody to think that I'm in that company, it's hard for me to believe. It really is.

RICK KAMLA: DA, who else are you bringing with you to this stage right now for this tremendous honor? Who else are you thinking about right now?

DAVID ALDRIDGE: I knew -- that's a very good question. That's good. I would have asked the same thing. I was just sitting there -- everything that's happened to me in my life is because of two people: James and Muriel Aldridge. They're the only two people that got me here. My mom passed a long time ago, and I miss her. My dad's 87 and he's just not going to believe this. I may get him on a plane for the first time in his life. He's never been on a plane before, and I hope we can get him on a plane and come up to Springfield in September. It's going to be a big event.

RICK KAMLA: DA, we're all very happy for you. Congratulations.


RICK KAMLA: David Aldridge, ladies and gentlemen. True, true emotion right there. Congratulations to all of our winners, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks to the Hall for honoring these remarkable individuals who have done so much for the growth of basketball.

Lot's keep things moving here. There are many people around the world eager to learn who has been chosen as today's finalist, the critical next step to being named the basketball Hall of Fame.

So now, without further adieu, here are the names of the 14 finalists for the Hall of Fame class of 2016. From the North American and Women's Committees, her legacy within the state of Texas and high school girl's basketball is legendary, a 52-year coaching career includes more than 1,400 victories, setting a national high school record for wins, both boys and girls, she led her teams to 16 Final Four appearances and was inducted into Texas Sports and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Along the way, she received the Morgan Wootten Award given by the Hall for lifetime achievement. One of the true pioneers of the women's game and finalist for the Women's Committee as a coach, Leta Andrews.

He's known for inventing Midnight Madness, a coach famed for his quirky motivational techniques. He would go on to win 786 games at four different schools, leading all to the NCAA Tournament, three are considered mid-majors today: Davidson, James Madison and Georgia State. While at the University of Maryland, he landed three of the most highly recruited players ever in Tom McMillen, Albert King and Moses Malone, who would eventually head straight to the pros, I should say. Named a finalist for the North American Committee as a coach, Lefty Driesell.

This gentleman, who has been nominated posthumously, followed service in the U.S. Navy with becoming involved as a referee in local youth sports. Took him a long way, obviously. Led to a career as an NBA referee, spanning 1967 to 1994, officiating over 2,000 games, including 269 playoff games, 41 Finals games and five All-Star Games. He followed his time on the court with the critically important role of NBA supervisor of officials for 17 years, where his attention to detail, training and professionalism were a vital part of the remarkable success of the NBA. He has been named a finalist from the North American Committee as a referee, Darell Garretson.

This next gentleman dedicated his life to the world of high school basketball in Texas. He began coaching in 1958, during the segregation era, in Fort Worth at the I.M. Terrell High School, where he coached for 16 years. At the end of segregation, he began coaching at Fort Worth Dunbar High School until his retirement in 2005. His teams reached the State Championships 30 consecutive times, winning five State titles. He would end his career with 1,333 wins, the most ever by a boys high school basketball coach. Selected as a finalist by the North American Committee as a coach, Robert Hughes.

This Virginia native had one of the most significant careers in basketball history, combining excellence on the court and cultural impact off the court. He followed his stellar career at Bethel High School by joining Hall of Fame coach John Thompson at Georgetown University. A consensus All-American in '95-96, he set the school record in career scoring average in his two years at Georgetown at 23 PPG. He was the first player chosen in the 1996 NBA Draft and was named Rookie of the Year in 1997. Yep, he stepped over Tyronn Lue as well. He was an 11-time NBA All-Star, four-time scoring champ and league MVP in 2001. He led the Sixers to The Finals in 2001. They won Game 1 against the Lakers, and Shaq and the guys took it from there. Boasting a career scoring average of 26.7, he had his No. 3 retired by the Sixers in 2014. Selected as a finalist by the North American Committee as a player, Allen Iverson.

This Michigan native has led his beloved Michigan State Spartans to a remarkable history of success. The numbers are amazing: over 500 wins, seven Final Four appearances, including three straight from '99 to '01, four Big Ten tournament championships, 18 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight-time national Coach of the Year and a national title in 2000. Selected as a finalist by the North American Committee as a coach, Tom Izzo.

This three-time NBA All-Star played 12 years in the NBA, 11 of those with the Phoenix Suns. He scored more than 13,000 points and dished out nearly 7,000 assists and made the All-NBA Team five times. He holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most minutes, at 62, and he's still a little bit tired about that. He's considered one of the Suns' all-time greats and had his No. 7 retired in 2001. He now serves as the Mayor of his hometown of Sacramento, California. Selected as a finalist from the North American Committee as a player, Kevin Johnson.

She began her career in coaching at Archbishop Carroll High School, and following stops as an assistant at Saint Joseph's and five seasons as the head coach at Lehigh, she became the third coach of the Notre Dame women's team, in 1987, a position she still holds today. Her remarkable career at Notre Dame includes 13 trips to the Sweet 16, seven trips to the Final Four, including five championship games and a national title in 2001. With over 800 career victories, her players have a perfect 100% graduation rate over the past seven seasons. Selected as a finalist from the Women's Committee as a coach, Muffet McGraw.

This gentleman is being recognized posthumously. He learned the game from Dr. James Naismith, the father of basketball, and went on to a remarkable career of firsts. He led his Tennessee State Tigers to three consecutive NAIA National Championships from '57 to '59. He was the first African-American coach to win a national tournament, in 1954, and championship, in 1957. He was also the first African-American coach to win an AAU National Championship and the first African-American coach in the ABA. Already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a contributor, he's now named a finalist by the North American Committee as a coach, John McLendon.

This next finalist has as many accolades as nicknames. Over his 19-year NBA career, The Diesel won four NBA Championships, an Olympic gold medal and three consecutive Finals MVPs. He's one of only three players in NBA history to pull off the hat trick of league MVP, All-Star MVP and Finals MVP in the same season. He's also the seventh all-time leading scorer in league history. In addition to his on-the-court dominance, the Big Aristotle is also a platinum-selling recording artist, New York Times best-selling author and he found time to get a Ph.D. in education. He's currently working as an analyst on the Emmy-award-winning "Inside the NBA" on TNT. And with over 15 years as a national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club of America, it is no doubt that he's truly Superman. Selected as a finalist from the North American Committee as a player, Shaquille O'Neal.

His coaching career has spanned over 40 years from high school to a top program at the University of Wisconsin. He led his University of Wisconsin Platteville Pioneers to four D-III national titles and an .820 winning percentage. The head coach of Wisconsin from 2001 to 2015, he's been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year three times, leading his team to back-to-back Final Fours in '14 and '15, including last year's title game. Named as a finalist by the North American Committee as a coach, Bo Ryan.

Impressive list. Well, it continues. This guy's impressive coaching career began in the 1960s. And at the time of his retirement in 2008, he had won more than 800 games, made six Elite Eight appearances and three Final Fours. He's been recognized by four Hall of Fames, and he's the first coach in NCAA history to lead four schools to the NCAA Tournament. Selected as a finalist from the North American Committee as a coach, Eddie Sutton.

After capping an illustrious career at Texas Tech by leading the Lady Raiders to the 1993 NCAA title and being named National Player of the Year, our next finalist became the first player to be signed to the WNBA. She went on to rack up four WNBA titles, three Olympic golds, six-time WNBA All-Star, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and three-time WNBA MVP. She was the first female player to get her own signature shoe, the Nike Air Swoopes. She currently serves as the head women's basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago. Selected as a finalist from the Women's Committee as a player, Sheryl Swoopes.

And in one of the great hidden stories until now in basketball history, from a tiny conservative school in West Texas, long before the birth of NCAA women's basketball, a series of teams pulled together by an innovative coach built a record unsurpassed in basketball history, the Flying Queens under the tutelage of coach Harley Redin, a retired World War II bomber pilot, won 131 consecutive games from 1953 to 1958. They would also win four straight National AAU Championships. Selected as a finalist by the Women's Committee as a team, the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens.

I'd like to ask Jerry Colangelo, Kevin Johnson and Allen Iverson to join us on stage, Shaquille O'Neal as well. Let's give them a round of applause as they make their way to the stage. All right, first of all, Jerry, how about the late, great John McLendon being nominated again, this time as a coach?

JERRY COLANGELO: Well, some could build a case for saying that's what he should have been nominated as back when, but it wasn't to be at that particular time. That was many, many years ago. But after looking at the record that he had, the impact he had on the game, the innovator that he was, he brought so much to the game, his coaching career was phenomenal, it's appropriate that he be nominated as a coach.

RICK KAMLA: Jerry, thank you so much.

And KJ, this is the second consecutive year we've been up here on this stage. You've been nominated once again. Congratulations. How do you feel about that?

KEVIN JOHNSON: I feel very excited until I saw that Allen Iverson was nominated. I retired because of Allen Iverson. He came down and he did that crossover thing, and I tried it and he laid it up and hit me on the butt running by and I knew it was time to go.

ALLEN IVERSON: Listen, listen, I'll tell you a story. When I was a rookie, you know what you did to me (laughing). You know what you did. And I remember Maurice Cheeks was our coach, and he said -- you know, because I was crying. Honestly.

KEVIN JOHNSON: Somebody's getting this on tape, right, that I made him cry?

ALLEN IVERSON: That was the only time somebody destroyed me like that. And Maurice Cheeks told me, don't worry about it, AI, one day you'll get somebody 36-9-9. Y'all go back and look at it, and that's what he did to me. He killed me.

RICK KAMLA: KJ, thank you. All right, Allen, it is good to see you again. It is good to see you again. What I want to ask you, can the story of basketball be told without Allen Iverson?

ALLEN IVERSON: No, no (laughing). I'm a product of Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, all those guys that paved the way for us. You know what I mean? They had no idea -- well, they might not have any idea of what they did for us as kids, wanting to be like them.

RICK KAMLA: Who was the number one inspirational figure in your life to get you to this stage, nominated for the Hall of Fame?

ALLEN IVERSON: I would say my mom, definitely.

RICK KAMLA: Allen, congratulations on the nomination, and we may be seeing you later this summer, you never know.

ALLEN IVERSON: Later where?

RICK KAMLA: Springfield.

ALLEN IVERSON: Oh, I hope so (laughing).

RICK KAMLA: Allen, we love you, man. Allen Iverson, ladies and gentlemen.

All right, Shaq, watch this. You know what? I tried to get creative with a question or two for you. But your coaches didn't get creative with you, they just got it to the big fella and everybody else got out of the way. So?

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: First of all, I'd like to thank all these guys on stage. You guys inspired me so much, except Rick Barry. He came to LSU one time and wanted me to shoot free throws underhanded. No, Rick. I can't do it, Rick. I'd rather shoot zero percent. I can't do it. I'm too cool for that.

But as a youngster, I started playing basketball at nine years old, and my father, who had a high school education, was an Army drill sergeant. I wish he was here for this day because he told me this day would happen and I never believed him. So we go to a park and he said, Son, I'm going to teach you how to be like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At nine years old, I had no idea who those guys were. So I was like, OK, dad.

So he told me how to block shots and keep it in bounds like him. He taught me sky hook, but it was too old school for me, so I transitioned to the jump hook. Taught me to be dominant like Wilt.

And as I started playing, I met the great George Gervin in San Antonio. I was a high school All-American in San Antonio. And believe it or not, football was my sport. I wanted to play football. I never wanted to play basketball. And me and George had an event one day. This was around the same time Jon Koncak had signed [for] $15 million for three [years]. And I wasn't that smart, but I knew 15 and three was $5 million a year. So I was like, Oh, so if I play basketball, I could make about $5 million a year? And I already had it set, I wanted to make $8 million for 10 years. I already had it in high school. I had my little house out in the Dominion. I had a house, I had a Mercedes and a Jimmy Blazer truck.

So I started playing basketball, and I just wanted to be like the great Bill Russell, Kareem, Wilt Chamberlain. And I developed my own style.

Later on in my career, people started comparing me to them. So I was like, If they're going to compare me to the greats after representing the game with the greats, it's an honor. Hopefully I get voted in. I still really don't know what today means. I don't. Like I got the call, said they changed the rules and you're nominated. I don't really know what that means and I'm very, very superstitious. So until I get the real call, I just want to say, Thank you, guys.

Isiah, you know you've been a mentor to me for a long, long time. Oscar Robertson, everybody up here. I just wanted to represent you guys. Because like AI said, you guys paved the way for us. And Dick Bavetta, I don't like you either. You gave me 10 technicals and you threw me out of the game twice, twice. Oh, yeah.

But I'm just happy to be here. Hopefully I get in. And Yao Ming used to travel all the time, would shoot the fadeaway and they never called that. But I'm just happy. I've got my kids here, I've got my woman here, so this is a big honor for everybody including myself. But, again, thank you guys for paving the way for us. We wouldn't be nothing without you guys.

First time I met Mr. Haywood, he cursed me out. He went up to me and said, You know who I am? I said no. He just grabbed me, he said, You need to know, I paved the way for you. If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't be here. I was like, My bad, brother. My bad. I had to tell him, Look, I'm from New Jersey. We only had one TV. We used to see Dr. J, Magic. He was mad. As you can see, he's a sharp brother, so he walked up to me, You know who I am, brother. I said, No, sir. I'm Spencer Haywood, I paved the way for you. I said, OK, brother, I understand. So thank you, Mr. Haywood, for leaving early. Because when they started that Hack-a-Shaq, he said I got to get to the pros and get this $5 million. They're killing me.

Thank you, everybody, for coming out. Love you guys. Appreciate it.

RICK KAMLA: Good job. The one and only Shaquille O'Neal. By the way, Dick just whistled a tech on you. That was a flagrant foul on the host, the emcee of this Hall of Fame shindig. Awesome, awesome stuff up here.

We want to thank everybody for taking time to share this afternoon with us here. A reminder, everybody is going to be available to the media following this fantastic event. Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause for our 2016 Hall of Fame finalists. Being named a finalist to the Hall of Fame is by itself a real honor.

Mark these important dates: The class of '16 will be introduced Monday, April 4 at the NCAA Final Four in Houston, and enshrinement 2016 will take place September 9th in Springfield, Massachusetts, at the basketball Hall of Fame.

I'd like to now invite John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, to the stage for a photo opportunity with these all-time greats.

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