By all accounts, Shaquille O’Neal was the most physically-dominating big man of the 1990s. Allen Iverson, on the other hand, proved to be “The Answer” at point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, confounding opponents with his scoring, ball handling, and passing. And on Friday night, both men stood out as the most prominent names in an impressive 2016 class for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, getting officially inducted with eight other legends,five months after they were officially confirmed for induction.

O’Neal was gentle giant who could dominate games with his power

The first-overall pick in the 1992 draft out of LSU, Shaquille O’Neal wasted no time in showing his might, averaging 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game as an Orlando Magic rookie and never looking back. He would lead the NBA in scoring twice, while also winning MVP honors in the 1999-2000 NBA season. And one can say that his most frustrating, yet fulfilling years came as part of the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed with, and often feuded publicly with Kobe Bryant as they led the team to three NBA championships.

And O’Neal made sure to give credit to Bryant, seriously noting how the recently-retired guard helped him bring three titles to the Lakers, but jokingly thanking him for “getting me pushed off the team” and sent to the Miami Heat.

Even if he put the fear of God into opposing players in the paint, Shaq was nonetheless a beloved character off the court, and one who was confident enough to give rap music and the movies a try, albeit with considerably less success than what he achieved on the basketball court.

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Iverson thanks former coaches in tearful induction speech

An equally celebrated player in the 1990s and 2000s, Allen Iverson also got picked first-overall, leading the celebrated draft class of 1996 that also included Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and several other future All-Stars. He went to the Philadelphia 76ers, whom he led to the NBA Finals in the 2000-01 season. In his career, “AI” led the league in scoring four times, going over the 30 ppg mark four times, was a three-time leader in steals, and won MVP for the 2001 season.

He was also well-known for his crossover dribble, one of the many moves he used to elude defenders, and arguably the most effective.

Fighting back tears as he was formally inducted as part of the Class of 2016, Iverson thanked his college coach at Georgetown, John Thompson, for “saving my life,” in reference to a notorious incident he was involved in as a 17-year-old high school student in 1993. That time, Iverson and some friends were involved in a bowling alley brawl, an incident where the future NBA superstar was tried as an adult and spent four months in a Newport News, Virginia correctional facility.

The incident, as it turned out, didn’t dissuade Thompson from offering him a basketball scholarship at Georgetown.

Interestingly, Iverson also thanked his Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown, whom he had butted heads with famously, culminating in the notorious “we talkin’ about practice” press rant. He credited Brown for helping him take constructive criticism, and acknowledged him as a “great, great coach” who helped him become an MVP with the Sixers.

The rest of the Class of 2016

Other well-known contemporary inductees feted at Friday’s ceremony included former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, who became the first foreign player without U.S.

college basketball experience selected first overall in the draft, and women’s basketball legend Sheryl Swoopes, who also played for a Houston team, the WNBA’s Comets, for most of her pro career. College coach Tom Izzo and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf wrapped up the list of living inductees in the Class of 2016. NBA referee Darrell Garretson, pioneering African-American coach John McLendon, ‘60s and ‘70s NBA and ABA center Zelmo Beaty, and early-20th-century black standout Cumberland Posey were the posthumous inductees.

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