Jordan among 16 Naismith Hall finalists

PHOENIX -- David Robinson has received a big endorsement for his enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

"I told Dave something I never told anyone in my life before: I told him he deserved it," Shaquille O'Neal said on Friday, when Robinson, Michael Jordan and John Stockton were among the 16 Hall finalists announced during NBA All-Star Game festivities. "I told him that he was always my favorite player."

O'Neal, the Phoenix Suns center making his 15th All-Star Game appearance, said Robinson was his favorite "because he had the spin-lob thing. He always ran the court. He was a nice-looking guy, so when I was in high school, designing my game, I picked him, Patrick Ewing and Rony Seikaly."

NBA coaches Don Nelson and Jerry Sloan and Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer also made the cut from a field of 164 nominees, as did former NBA stars Dennis Johnson, Chris Mullin and Bernard King, and two-time WNBA MVP Cynthia Cooper.

"I'll step out on a limb and speak for all of them and say thank you," said Robinson, the former San Antonio stalwart and lone finalist who attended the announcement of the finalists. "We understand the honor that goes along with being nominated. We know everyone doesn't get in."

The election announcement will be made on April 6 at the NCAA Final Four in Detroit, with enshrinement in September at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. All 16 finalists may be elected, according to Hall policy.

Jordan, regarded by many as the greatest player in history, led the Bulls to six NBA titles and won an NCAA championship at North Carolina. He was a five-time NBA MVP and a six-time NBA Finals MVP. He also won two Olympic gold medals.

Jordan and Stockton dueled in two memorable NBA Finals, with Jordan's Chicago Bulls defeating Stockton's Utah Jazz in 1997 and 1998.

Stockton retired as the NBA's career leader in assists and steals, and he also won a pair of Olympic gold medals.

Jordan and Stockton were teammates on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team, and now they're poised to enter the Hall together.

"I mean, those two are a lock," Robinson said. "But think about the rest of these guys. Who's not going to get in?"

Other finalists include former Golden State coach Al Attles, who was nominated as a contributor; Bob Hurley Sr., who has more than 900 wins at St. Anthony's High School in New Jersey; Vladimir Kondrashin, who coached the Soviet Union to the 1972 Olympic gold medal, defeating the U.S. in a controversial final; Pereira "Ubiratan" Maciel, a player known as "The King" in his native Brazil; Richie Guerin, a six-time NBA All-Star with the New York Knicks and a former player-coach with the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks; and Johnny "Red" Kerr, a longtime Chicago Bulls commentator who was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1967 after leading the expansion Bulls into the playoffs in their first season.