It’s almost that time of year again — Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction season — and the Class of 2023 is headlined by some of the greatest players and coaches that have left their stamp on the game.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, current San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and WNBA legend Becky Hammon will receive their rightful place in Springfield, Mass. on Aug. 12, 2023.
Nowitzki waged a herculean effort in 2011, leading the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA Finals win over the then-newly constructed Miami Heat big-three featuring Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. He won the NBA MVP in 2007, was a 14-time All-Star and became the only 7-footer in history to join the 50-40-90 club.
Wade put on one of the greatest individual Finals performances in league history. He resurrected the Heat from an 0-2 deficit against Nowitzki’s Mavericks in 2006, ran the table over the next four games and averaged the 12th most points in a championship series at 34.7 points per game. The eight-time All-NBA honoree won the scoring title in 2009 and collected two more championships in 2012 and 2013.
Parker joined the Spurs when David Robinson was on his way out and, alongside Tim Duncan, made San Antonio perennial championship contenders for more than a decade. He won four championships with the team, including a 2007 Finals MVP award. He was a marquee international player that helped the game grow around the world.
After getting his feet wet with the Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol teamed up with Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers and helped the storied franchise win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. The former 2002 Rookie of the Year and six-time All-Star dominated the international stage as well, winning Silver medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games while giving Team USA serious runs for their money.
Coach Popovich turned the Spurs from a playoff team into a dynasty beginning at the tail end of the 1990s. He was, and remains, the gold standard of coaching for 25 years running. Known for promulgating textbook ball movement, championship-level defense and unapologetic player accountability, ‘Pop’ squeezed every last drop of the talents of his star players and demanded nothing but fundamental play. His famous Hack-a-Shaq, load management and other clever tactics are widely emulated around the league to this very day.
Lastly, Hammon made a name for herself as a top-shelf competitor in the WNBA. After going undrafted in 1999 out of Colorado State, she became a six-time WNBA All-Star with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars, leading the league in assists in 2007 and spearheading Russia to a Bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. She became one of the most popular athletes in women’s basketball and helped advance the game.