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Shaq ‘thanks’ Kobe

Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Shaquille O'Neal speaks during induction ceremonies at Symphony Hall, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – When Shaquille O’Neal was 10 years old, his father made a prediction.

Friday night when his son became a Hall of Famer, it was realized.

Shaq and Allen Iverson headlined the 10-member Class of 2016 enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

One of the most star-packed classes in recent memory, it also featured international star Yao Ming, WNBA great Sheryl Swoopes, coach Tom Izzo, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf, an architect in the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls championship teams of the 1990s.

“If I know my father, he’s up there arguing with Wilt (Chamberlain) that his son is the best big man in the game,” Shaq said.

Shaq was an instant box office draw during his career because of his mammoth frame and rim-shaking dunks. But he also exhibited a personality that was as playful was it was engaging. He showed off all of it on Friday.

He had the final speech of the night, a humorous dissertation that spanned his long journey in the sport.

His speech had serious moments like thanking his parents, Phil Harrison and Lucille O’Neal, for giving him the discipline and drive that drove his NBA dream.

But he also tossed in light moments. He thanked former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant for helping him win three NBA titles, “but also for getting me pushed off the team and traded to Miami.”

Before host Ahmad Rashad could even introduce Iverson, the first mention of his name started a roar of cheers throughout the assembled audience.

Fighting tears throughout, Iverson thanked former Georgetown coach John Thompson “for saving my life.”

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