SALT LAKE CITY — Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich are one step closer to basketball immortality.
The international trio – Gasol, Nowitzki and Parker – were among the finalists for the Class of 2023 unveiled by the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, putting them on the doorstep this summer. Also on that list: Popovich, the best coach in NBA history with the San Antonio Spurs, and Dwyane Wade, part of three championship teams with the Miami Heat.
“It’s really about the journey,” Gasol said. “This kind of recognition, which is a great honor, comes when you do things very well, very well for a long time and when you love what you do. I have had the privilege of playing the game for a long time, at a high level, with great people who have taught me so much.”
There were four selections from the Women’s Committee – 1990 national player of the year, Olympic champion and world champion Jennifer Azzi; six-time WNBA All-Star and championship-winning WNBA coach Becky Hammon; and longtime coaches Gary Blair and Marian Washington.
Other contenders from the North American Committee include Gene Bess, who is believed to be the collegiate coaching wins leader with 1,300 to his credit; two-time Division III national champion David Hixon; and seven Big Ten coach of the year Gene Keady.
“I love the class. I think this is a loaded class,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo.
Colangelo said it’s unusual for the finalists to make it this far in their first year on the ballot. Wade, Popovich, Gasol, Parker, Nowitzki and others have so far played in their first opportunity.
“The Class of 2023 will be remembered as one of the most impressive classes the Hall of Fame has ever seen, and we are thrilled to have this outstanding collection of talent and accomplishments one step closer to Springfield,” said Colangelo.
Popovich has coached San Antonio to five NBA titles, four with Parker as the team’s point guard, and led the U.S. to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The other two of the Spurs’ Big Three from that championship era – Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili – are already Hall of Famers.
Nowitzki is sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and led Dallas to the 2011 NBA title as the highlight of his 21-year career, all with the Mavericks. Gasol won NBA titles and led Spain to the FIBA world championship, while Wade was a 13-time Olympic All-Star and earned membership to the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.
Hall of Famers receive an orange jacket to commemorate their induction. Wade said he dreamed of wearing one, noting that he is now “one step closer”.
“A young Dwyane Wade would never have thought this moment would be here,” Wade said. “Sometimes when you’re young and you have a dream, not many people believe in your dream. But I’ve always been a dreamer.”
The Hall also announced Friday that longtime high school scout Tom Konchalski will receive the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hall’s highest honor for an ensign. CBS Sports will receive one of Curt Gowdy’s media awards this year, and ESPN’s Holly Rowe and Marc Spears will now be Gowdy recipients.
Hall’s class will be announced on April 1 at the NCAA Men’s Finals in Houston. The cover weekend is August 11 and 12 at Uncasville, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts.
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