The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame has officially announced its 2023 class. For the third time in four years, the Spurs will be well represented, this time nearly half of the class has ties, and even more represent the great state of Texas. They might as well hold the ceremony here instead of in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Headlining the star-studded class is Spurs head coach (hopefully for more than just five more games) Gregg Popovich, along with Spurs legend and four-time champion Tony Parker, former Spur Pau Gasol, and former Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon. Three-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat Dwayne Wade will also be there, as well as Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. Adding to the Texas representation will be former Texas A&M women’s basketball coach Gary Blair, who led them to two Final Four apperances and their first NCAA championship in 2011.
Finally, capping off the class is 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, former Purdue and seven-time Big Ten coach of the year Gene Keady, 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.
Pop is the winningest NBA coach of all time and has led the Spurs to five championships. He has respectfully declined multiple other chances to be on the ballot, with most assuming he would wait until he retires. This is not to say his inclusion on the 2023 ballot points to potential retirement after this season, but it is naturally fueling a new round of speculation. Another possibility he wanted to see his players go first, and with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginonili already in, he has accomplished that mission while joining Parker.
Parker would be the third and final member of the Spurs Big Three to enter the Hall of Fame, with whom he won four championships, including the 2007 Finals MVP and was a six-time All Star. He, Nowitzki and Gasol were all part of the globalization of the NBA beginning in the early 2000’s, bringing their influences from France, Germany, and Spain, respectively. While Gasol’s legacy mostly lies with his two championships with the Lakers, he spent three seasons with the Spurs late in his career.
Finally, Hammon was a Hall of Fame-level player in the WNBA before becoming the first female assistant coach in the NBA in 2014. She also became the first woman to coach an NBA game last season when Pop was out for a game and went on to become the head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, leading them to the championship in 2022 and setting many first-year coaching records along the way.
The class will get its jackets and Hall of Fame rings on August 11, and the ceremony and their speeches will come on August 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts. What Spurs fan won’t be watching?