NBA

Wade and Nowitzki headline 2023 Hall of Fame class, Spurs honoured with Popovich and Parker

By Sports Desk March 28, 2023

The stacked 2023 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class was reportedly revealed on Tuesday with Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Becky Hammon and Gregg Popovich making the cut.

Wade, Nowitzki, Gasol and Parker are all first-ballot selections after playing their final seasons in 2018-19, while it was also Popovich's first time on the ballot after previously declining Hall of Fame consideration in recent years.

Hammon's elevation was also considered simply a matter of time, with the six-time WNBA All-Star, former long-time San Antonio Spurs assistant and 2022 WNBA championship-winning coach with the Las Vegas Aces having put together a stellar resume since turning pro in 1999.

With Hammon's ties to the Spurs, it figures to be a special night for San Antonio fans as Parker and Popovich are enshrined, joining fellow linchpins of their dynasty Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili after their inductions in 2020 and 2022 respectively.

Popovich coached the Spurs to all five of their NBA titles – 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 – while Parker contributed to the last four after arriving in 2001 following an impressive youth career in France.

The six-foot-two point guard made six All-Star teams, and was named to the All-NBA Second Team three seasons in a row from 2012-14 as the Spurs battled LeBron James' Miami Heat in a legendary rivalry.

His number nine jersey was retired by the Spurs, as is Nowitzki's number 41 jersey with the Dallas Mavericks.

Nowitzki, who for a long period was European basketball's biggest star, brought the Mavericks their only title in 2011 as he took down the Heat in James' first season there.

The German was named league MVP in 2007, and went on to make 14 All-Star teams, while earning 12 All-NBA selections, including four on the First Team in the space of five years.

While both Popovich and Nowitzki could headline a Hall of Fame class in any given year, that honour may go to Wade, who was the architect of all three of Miami's titles in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

Drafted in 2003, Wade ended up carrying the Heat – alongside Shaquille O'Neal – to their first ever championship in only his third season. 

It was the beginning of a run that saw him make 14 All-Star teams, eight All-NBA teams, and three NBA All-Defensive teams as he rivalled James and Kobe Bryant for the status of best player in the league in 2009 and 2010.

While Wade may have been at his peak in 2009 and 2010, both of those seasons ended with Gasol lifting the title with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gasol spent just six-and-a-half seasons in Los Angeles, but it is where he will be most fondly remembered after making such a profound impact that he recently had his number 16 jersey retired into the rafters alongside running-mate Bryant.

Adding to his NBA resume was his spectacular international play, where he became the all-time leading scorer in EuroBasket play, averaging 20.4 per game in 58 appearances for his country, while also carrying Spain to their first ever FIBA World Cup gold medal in 2006.

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