Popovich Leads Hall of Fame's Class of '23

Becky Hammon joins NBA greats
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 1, 2023 11:35 AM CDT
Popovich Leads Hall of Fame's Class of '23
Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon stands on the field before an NFL game in Las Vegas last fall.   (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, File)

Tony Parker and Pau Gasol played for him. Becky Hammon coached alongside him. Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade waged battles against him. And now, Gregg Popovich is a Hall of Famer. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame made it official Saturday, with three of the NBA's all-time international greats—Nowitzki, Parker and Gasol—joining Wade, Hammon and Popovich in the 2023 class that will be enshrined Aug. 11-12 at ceremonies in Connecticut and Massachusetts. "This is basketball heaven," Wade said on the ESPN telecast of the announcement in Houston, the AP reports.

Also getting the Hall's call: the 1976 US Olympic women's basketball team; former Purdue coach Gene Keady, a seven-time Big Ten coach of the year; former Texas A&M women's coach Gary Blair, who took two teams to the Final Four; longtime coach at Division III Amherst and two-time national champion David Hixon; and Gene Bess—who won 1,300 games as a junior college coach at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The late Jim Valvano, who as a coach who led NC State to the 1983 NCAA title, was selected as a contributor—also taking into account his work as a broadcaster and an outspoken advocate for cancer research and the V Foundation.

Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo gave the new members or their families the news earlier this week. Most of them joined Colangelo and other Hall of Famers on Friday for a welcome dinner of sorts, then on Saturday took their first public bows as basketball royalty. "This class not only represents all levels of basketball, it represents truly, in every regard, what the game is all about and where it is," Colangelo told the AP. “I mean, think about the candidates. There's the countries that are represented, Germany and Spain and France. It shows how far the game has come and where it is today." The class, he said, "stands by itself as in its uniqueness."

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The four NBA players—Nowitzki, Parker, Gasol, and Wade—combined for 95,092 points, 39 All-Star appearances and 10 NBA championships. Hammon was a six-time WNBA All-Star and is coach of the reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces. Popovich won five NBA titles, more games than anyone else in league history and an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games that were played in 2021. "In all honesty, I always felt the Hall of Fame is like for Red Holzman, Red Auerbach and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. ... I've never felt like I really belonged, to be honest with you," Popovich said. "I'm not trying to be 'Mr. Humble' or anything. I'm a Division III guy. I'm not a Hall of Fame guy."

(More NBA stories.)

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