Yao Ming Began His Hall Of Fame Speech With A Crack About Allen Iverson And ‘Practice’

It was a big night in Springfield, Mass. at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include a trio of NBA heavyweights: Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, and Yao Ming. Yao, whose influence on global basketball cannot be understated, was invited to speak first. After expressing a little bit of trepidation about that honor, the 7’5 Yao wasted absolutely no time getting in a dig at Iverson that immediately brought the house down.

“When I heard I would be the first speaker tonight, I think maybe somebody made a mistake,”Ming said. “Don’t laugh, because I think this spot belonged to the great Allen Iverson. You know why? Because I need more practice than him.”

Friday’s ceremony promises to be an emotional roller-coaster, especially once Iverson, who’s always worn his heart on his sleeve, finally takes the podium. We can probably also expect a veritable comedy roast from the always entertaining O’Neal.

Each of these unique players left an indelible mark on the league that will not soon be forgotten. Tonight’s induction is the culmination of three legendary careers that, although widely different in terms of their trajectories, came to define a generation of basketball players and inspired athletes around the world.