The greatest Maverick in franchise history, two Spurs icons and the best Spaniard in NBA history — a guy who helped Kobe pick up a couple of rings — are all up for the basketball’s highest honor.
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced the finalists for the 2023 class, and some players who are locks to get in sit at the top of that board: Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker.
At the top of the list from the North American Committee are:
Dwyane Wade is arguably the greatest two guard in the game’s history (assuming Jordan is a three), a three-time NBA champion and the 2006 Finals MVP. His resume includes eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game, but more than that he is the talisman of the Miami Heat, the franchise icon that belongs in the Hall.
Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest Maverick ever and the greatest European player in NBA history, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007. His consistency over a 21-year career is legendary and he is sixth all-time in scoring in league history, plus he was a 12-time All-NBA player and 14-time All-Star. The only thing more sure than Nowitzki getting in is Mark Cuban being there for his enshrinement.
Gregg Popovich, the iconic coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs — a team that won 50+ games 18-straight seasons with him at the helm, helping him on the way to being the winningest coach in NBA history. “Pop” also was always active with Team USA, including taking over the head coaching job and helping USA Basketball win the gold again in the Tokyo Olympics. One of the legends he coached was…
Tony Parker, the point guard for much of the Spurs’ legendary run, is a four-time NBA champion and was Finals MVP in 2007. He has four All-NBA nods and six All-Star trips, but what cements his spot in the Hall of Fame is his international resume, he was the MVP of EuroBasket 2013, which France won.’
Pau Gasol is another player with an impressive NBA and international resume. He is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA, six-time All-Star, and was the Rookie of the Year in 2002. He led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals (two silver, one bronze), and he carried the flag for Spain at the 2012 Olympics.
Also nominated are:
• Gene Keady, the legendary Purdue coach who was a seven-time Big Ten Coach of the Year.
• Gene Bess, who coached the Three Rivers Community College in Popular Bluff, Mo., for 50 years, winning 1,300 games (he’s the winningest college basketball coach across all levels).
• David Hixon, who coached at Amherst College for 42 years and amassed 826 wins and two D3 national championships.
• Becky Hammon, who most NBA fans know as the first women’s assistant coach in the NBA and current coach of the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces, but before that she was a six-time WNBA All-Star.