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Shaquille O'Neal named finalist for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Shaquille O'Neal named finalist for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
Former Laker Shaquille O'Neal addresses fans during a ceremony to retire his jersey at Staples Center on April 2, 2013. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was announced as a finalist for the 2016 class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

O'Neal, who played 19 years in the NBA, won three titles with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (2000-02) and one in Miami with the Heat (2006).

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The Lakers retired O'Neal's No. 34 jersey in 2013.

O'Neal is eligible for the Hall of Fame because of a recent rule change that allows for enshrinement after four full seasons of retirement instead of the traditional five.

He's joined by guards Allen Iverson and Kevin Johnson, who earned their greatest fame with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns, respectively.

Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is expected to be announced as a finalist at a later date by the hall's international committee.

Others nominated include coaches Charles "Lefty" Driesell, Tim Izzo, Robert Hughes, John McLendon, Eddie Sutton and Bo Ryan, along with referee Darrell Garrettson.

The women's committee nominated former Houston Comets champion Sheryl Swoopes, coaches Leta Andrews and Muffet McGraw as well as 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University.

The official class of 2016 will be announced on April 4 in Houston, ahead of the NCAA men's championship game.

Enshrinement will take place in Springfield, Mass., in early September.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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