Naismith Memorial Basketball: Check out the 10 finalists for Class of 2021 NBA Hall of Fame

NBA Naismith Memorial Basketball: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced nine exceptional players and five outstanding coaches as finalists from the North American and Women’s committees to be considered for election in 2021.

This year’s list includes nine first-time finalists: ninth-winningest coach in NBA history Rick Adelman, two-time NBA champion and 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Bosh, five-time NBA champion and five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Michael Cooper, NBA Finals MVP and 10-time NBA All-Star Paul Pierce, the first Black NBA head coach Bill Russell, two-time NCAA national champion Villanova coach Jay Wright, seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Yolanda Griffith, seven-time WNBA All-Star and three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player Lauren Jackson, and NCAA national champion and WNBA Coach of the Year Marianne Stanley. 

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are the all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews, five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year Marques Johnson, four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, and five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber.

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While our timeline of events over the past year has been adaptable and reimagined due to the global pandemic, we have never wavered in our commitment to renovating our beautiful museum and recognizing the greats of the game who deserve to be immortalized there,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Revealing the finalists for the Class of 2021 today is an exciting step towards honoring the men and women who have contributed greatly to the game we celebrate.

The entire Class of 2021, including those chosen by the direct elect representatives, will be unveiled on May 16, 2021.

Direct elect committees include the International Committee, Men’s and Women’s Veterans Committees, the Early African American Pioneer Committee, and the Contributor Committee. Event details are forthcoming, and the announcement timeline is subject to change.

The Class of 2021 Enshrinement ceremony is scheduled to take place in September 2021. The date of the Class of 2021 Ceremony will be announced prior to the Class of 2021 Announcement on May 16.

Paul Pierce headlines NBA candidates for 2021 Hall of Fame class

NBA Class of 2021 Hall of Fame

Naismith Memorial Basketball: North American Committee Finalists:

Naismith Memorial Basketball: RICK ADELMAN [Coach] – Adelman coached in the NBA for more than three decades, compiling an overall head coaching record of 1042-749 (.582). His teams reached the playoffs in 16 of his 23 seasons at the helm and he led the Portland Trail Blazers to two NBA Finals (1990, 1992).

Adelman ranks ninth all-time in NBA career wins, including two 60-win seasons and 11 50-win seasons. He reached 200 wins in just 288 games, a record at the time. Adelman is a three-time NBA All-Star Game head coach (1991, 2001, 2003).

He coached several Hall of Fame players including Clyde Drexler, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Mullin, and Drazen Petrovic.

Naismith Memorial Basketball: CHRIS BOSH [Player] – Bosh is an 11-time NBA All-Star (2006-2016) and a two-time NBA Champion with the Miami Heat (2012, 2013).

In 13 NBA seasons, he averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Drafted by the Toronto Raptors, he was a member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2003-2004. As a collegiate athlete at Georgia Tech, Bosh earned ACC Rookie of the Year in 2003.

As a high school standout in 2002, Bosh was named Texas Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American, while leading Lincoln High to a state and national championship with a 40-0 record. On the international stage, Bosh won an Olympic gold medal in 2008.

Naismith Memorial Basketball: MICHAEL COOPER [Player] – Cooper is a five-time NBA Champion with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) and is best known for his defensive contributions to an offensively gifted team.

He earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors five times (1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988) and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. In 1986, he collected the J. Walter Kennedy Citizen Award for outstanding service in his community.

He played one season for Virtus Roma, where he received the Italian All-Star Game MVP in 1991. As a collegiate athlete at the University of New Mexico, Cooper was named a USBWA First Team All-American.

Naismith Memorial Basketball: TIM HARDAWAY [Player] – A 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Hardaway played 13 NBA seasons scoring a total of 15,373 points while averaging more than 20 points per game for four consecutive seasons.

He is the 1990 recipient of the Jack McMahon Award for the most inspirational player and a 1997 All-NBA First Team selection. He currently ranks 18th in NBA history with 7,095 career assists.

The Chicago native was a member of the men’s basketball team at the University of Texas at El Paso (1985-1989) and is known for making his signature move – the “UTEP Two-step” – famous in 1989, the same year he was named WAC Player of the Year.

NBA Class of 2021 Hall of Fame

Naismith Memorial Basketball: MARQUES JOHNSON [Player] – Johnson is a five-time NBA All-Star (1979-81, 1983, 1986) and a member of the 1978 NBA All-Rookie First Team and the 1979 All-NBA First Team. He was also named the NBA Comeback Player of the Year in 1986.

In 11 NBA seasons, he averaged 20.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. As a student-athlete at UCLA under the direction of Hall of Famer John Wooden, Johnson was a member of an NCAA national championship team (1975).

In 1977, he was named Pac-8 Player of the Year and the consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year. Johnson has been inducted into the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (2013).

Naismith Memorial Basketball: PAUL PIERCE [Player] – Pierce is a 10-time NBA All-Star (2002-06, 2008-2012) and 2008 NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics. In 2008, he was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

After 19 seasons in the NBA, Pierce ranks ninth all-time in free throws made and three-point field goals made, as well as 19th all-time in NBA scoring with 26,397 points. Drafted by the Celtics, Pierce was named a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1999.

As a Kansas Jayhawk, he was a unanimous First Team All-American in 1998. With Inglewood High, Pierce was named California Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s All-American in 1995. His number 34 is retired by the Boston Celtics and Kansas Jayhawks. 

NBA Class of 2021 Hall of Fame

Naismith Memorial Basketball: BILL RUSSELL [Coach] – Following the retirement of legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach in 1966, Bill Russell became the first Black head coach in the NBA.

In his second season as player-coach, Russell led the Boston Celtics to the 1968 NBA championship, thus becoming the first Black head coach to win an NBA title. The following season, Russell would again lead Boston to the NBA Finals and championship, his eleventh and final ring.

With the Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, and Sacramento Kings, he compiled an NBA coaching record of 341-290 (.540), with a playoff record of 34-27 (.557).

As a player coach, Russell was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1968. Russell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1975.

Naismith Memorial Basketball: BEN WALLACE [Player] – Wallace is a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), four-time NBA All-Star (2003-06), and NBA Champion with the Detroit Pistons (2004).

He earned NBA All-Defensive Team honors five times (2002-2006) and All-NBA Second Team three times (2003, 2004, 2006), while leading the NBA in rebounds per game (2002, 2003) and blocked shots (2002).

As a collegiate athlete at Virginia Union University, Wallace was a CIAA Tournament Champion and Tournament MVP in 1995 and a Division II First Team All-American in 1996.

Naismith Memorial Basketball: CHRIS WEBBER [Player] – Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star (1997, 2000-2003) and the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year.

He earned All-NBA First Team honors in 2001 and All-NBA Second Team three times (1999, 2002, 2003).

He led the NBA in rebounds per game during the 1998-1999 season and averaged more than 20 points per game for nine consecutive seasons (1994-2003). As a member of the “Fab Five,” Webber led the University of Michigan to Final Four appearances in 1992 and 1993 and was a Unanimous First Team All-America selection in 1993.

As a high school phenom at Detroit Country Day School, he was named the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP, Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, and the Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 1991.

NBA Class of 2021 Hall of Fame

Naismith Memorial Basketball: JAY WRIGHT [Coach] – Wright is a two-time Naismith National Coach of the Year (2006, 2016), six-time Big East Conference Coach of the Year (2006, 2009, 2014-16, 2019), and the first coach in NCAA history to lead a team to four consecutive 30-win seasons.

He led Villanova to two NCAA national championships (2016, 2018) and seven Big East regular-season championships (2006, 2014-17, 2019, 2020).

In all, Wright has guided Villanova to three Final Fours, four Elite Eights, and four Sweet Sixteen appearances. Through the 2019-20 season, he had compiled an overall coaching record of 594-267 (.690). Wright was named the recipient of the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2018.

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