SALT LAKE CITY – The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, at NBA All-Star Weekend 2023, the selection of five coaches and seven players as Finalists from the North American and Women’s Screening committees. The Finalists will then be put forth to the Honors Committee to be considered for election as a member of the Class of 2023.
This year’s North American Committee finalists (in alphabetical order):
* Gene Bess – All-time winningest college coach (1,300)
* Pau Gasol – 6-time All-Star, 2-time NBA champion, 2002 Rookie of the Year
* David Hixon – 826 wins, 2-time D3 national champion, 2-time D3 Coach of the Year
* Gene Keady – 7-time Big Ten Coach of the Year
* Dirk Nowitzki – 14-time All-Star, 2006-07 MVP, 2011 NBA Champion
* Tony Parker – 6-time All-Star, 4-time NBA champion, 2007 Finals MVP
* Gregg Popovich – Winningest coach in NBA history, 5-time NBA champion
* Dwyane Wade – 13-time All-Star, 3-time NBA champion, 2006 Finals MVP
This year’s Women’s Committee finalists (in alphabetical order):
* Jennifer Azzi – 1990 Naismith Player of the Year, 1990 national champion
* Gary Blair – 852 wins, 2011 national champion
* Becky Hammon – 6-time WNBA All-Star
* Marian Washington – 560 wins, 11 NCAA apps.
“Eleven first-time nominees make up this historic group of Class of 2023 finalists,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “It is an incredible honor to be named a Finalist for the Hall of Fame, and their recognition as a Finalist is evidence of the legendary accomplishments and dominance shown throughout their careers. The Class of 2023 will be remembered as one of the most distinguished classes the Hall of Fame will ever see, and we are extremely excited for this unparalleled collection of talent and achievement to be one step closer to Springfield.”
The Class of 2023 will be remembered as one of the most distinguished classes the Hall of Fame will ever see, and we are extremely excited for this unparalleled collection of talent and achievement to be one step closer to Springfield.”
The entire Class of 2023 will be announced in Houston, on April 1 at the NCAA Men’s Final Four at 11:00 AM ET as part of the Hall of Fame Class Announcement. Potential Enshrinees from the Direct Elect Committees may also be recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four.
The Class of 2023 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, Mass., the Birthplace of Basketball, on August 11-12. VIP packages to the 2023 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend are now available. Single-event tickets will go on sale April 1 following the 2023 Class Announcement at 12:00 PM ET.
North American Committee Finalists:
GENE BESS [Coach] – Bess coached at Three Rivers Community College in Popular Bluff, Mo., for 50 years, from 1971-2020. During his time at the helm of the Raiders’ program, Bess, who was named NJCAA National Coach of the Year twice, amassed 1,300 wins and is the all-time winningest college basketball coach across all levels. Bess coached his teams to 17 NJCAA Tournament appearances, including four finals (1979, ‘92, ‘94, 2010) and two championships (1979, ‘92). Before Three Rivers, Bess coached high school basketball for 12 years (1957-69), going 237-95. Bess has been inducted into the Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame (1983), Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame (1988), NJCAA Fall of Fame (1989) and Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2006).
PAU GASOL [Player] – The 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, the first non-American to win the award, garnered six All-Star selections (2006, ’09-11, ’15-16) and four All-NBA team accolades during his 18-year NBA career. Gasol won back-to-back NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009-10 and was the fourth player in league history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks. The Barcelona, Spain, native boasted an equally distinguished international career, winning three Olympic medals (silver in 2008, ’12 and bronze in 2016) and, in 2017, became EuroBasket’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing fellow finalist Tony Parker. Gasol also led the Spanish national team to a FIBA World Championship title in 2006, where he was named the competition’s Most Valuable Player, and a EuroBasket tournament crown in 2009 and ’11. He was the highest-scoring player in in the 2004 Olympics and was Spain’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Games. Gasol had his No. 16 retired by the Lakers on March 7.
DAVID HIXON [Coach] – Before retiring in 2020, Hixon was at the helm of the Amherst College basketball program for 42 years (1977-2020). During his career, Hixon amassed 826 wins and became the third coach in men’s college basketball history to surpass the 800-win mark in 2018. He was awarded National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division III Coach of the Year twice (2007, ‘13). Hixon coached his teams to 20 NCAA Division III national tournaments, including seven Final Four appearances (2004, ‘06-08, ‘13-14, ‘16) and two championships (2007, ‘13). Under Hixon’s leadership, the Mammoths played in 18 New England Small College Athletic Conference championships (2001-19) and won eight titles (2001-02, ‘05-06, ‘12-14, ‘19).
GENE KEADY [Coach] – Keady spent 27 seasons as the head coach of the Western Kentucky University (1978-80) and Purdue University (1980-2005) men’s basketball programs. Keady, one of the most respected coaches in college basketball history, garnered 550 career NCAA wins and was named National Coach of the Year six times (1984, ‘88, ‘94-96, 2000). He is the winningest coach in Purdue’s history (512), won six Big Ten titles (1984, ‘87-88, ‘95-96) and a record seven Big Ten Coach of the Year awards (1984, ‘88, ‘90, ‘94-96, 2000). Under Keady’s leadership, Purdue made 17 NCAA tournament appearances in 24 years. He was also inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, where he served as president from 2000-01. Among the notable coaches that served under Keady’s direction were Bruce Weber, Kevin Stallings, Steve Lavin, Cuonzo Martin and Matt Painter, current Boilermaker head coach. Keady was a Hall of Fame finalist in 2004 and ‘06.
DIRK NOWITZKI [Player] – Nowitzki is a 14-time NBA All-Star (2002-12, ’14-15, ’19) and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award during the 2006-07 campaign, the first European-born player to take home the honor. Nowitzki, who ranks sixth all-time in NBA scoring, led the Dallas Mavericks to their first-ever NBA championship in 2011 and was named Finals MVP. The Würzburg, West Germany native, played his entire 21-year career with Dallas, a record for most seasons with a single team, and was named to the All-NBA Team on 12 occasions and received first-team accolades four times (2005-07, ’09). He is the Mavericks’ all-time statistical leader in nearly all categories, including points, rebounds, blocks, field goals, three-point field goals and free throws. Nowitzki retired in 2019 as the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history, and is the only player with at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,200 steals, 1,200 blocks and 1,500 three-point field goals. Prior to joining the NBA, Nowitzki played 5 seasons with DJK Würzburg, and helped the German National Team to a bronze medal in the 2002 FIBA World Championships. He was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021, and the following year, became the first German men’s basketball player to have his number (14) retired.
TONY PARKER [Player] – Parker is a four-time NBA champion (2003, ’05, ’07, ’14), six-time NBA All-Star (2006-07, ’09, ’12-14) and was the Most Valuable Player in the 2007 NBA Finals. He was named to an All-NBA team four times, including three consecutive second-team honors (2012-14). Parker, who was recognized on the 2002 NBA All-Rookie First Team, ranks sixth on the NBA’s all-time playoff list in assists and 10th in scoring. He played 17 of his 18 NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs and is the franchise leader in assists. Born in Belgium and raised in France, Parker was a fixture on the French national team and was MVP of EuroBasket 2013. In 2015, he became the all-time leading scorer in EuroBasket competition, a record that fellow finalist Paul Gasol broke two years later. Parker was inducted into the Legion of Honor in 2007, the highest French order or merit, and his No. 9 was retired by the San Antonio Spurs in 2019. Parker is the majority owner and president of ASVEL Basket, a French professional basketball team.
GREGG POPOVICH [Coach] – Popovich has been the head coach for the San Antonio Spurs for 27 seasons (1996-present) and became the winningest coach in NBA history in March 2022. He is one of five coaches in NBA history with at least five or more championships (1999, 2003, ‘05, ‘07, ‘14). Over the course of his career, Popovich has led the Spurs to 284 playoff victories and six NBA Finals appearances (1999, 2003, ‘05, ‘07, ‘13-14). During his tenure with the Spurs, Popovich coached Hall of Famers David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili, along with Class of 2023 finalist Tony Parker. Popovich has won NBA Coach of the Year three times (2003, ‘12, ‘14), and his 67 wins in 2016 are tied for the seventh most all-time in a single season. In addition to his NBA coaching career, “Pop” has served as head or assistant coach for six USA Basketball national teams, including winning a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics.
DWYANE WADE [Player] – Wade is a 13-time NBA All-Star (2005-16, ’19), eight-time All-NBA team member, including a pair of first-team accolades (2009-10), and the 2006 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Over the course of his 16-year NBA career, he also won three NBA championships (2006, ’12-13), earned NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors on three occasions (2005, ’09-10), led the league in scoring with 30.2 points per game in 2009, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2004. He is the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in numerous categories, including points, assists, steals, field goals and games played. On the international stage, Wade earned 2 Olympic medals, highlighted by taking home the gold in the 2008 Games in Beijing as the leading scorer on the “Redeem Team.” The Chicago native played collegiately at Marquette University and led the Golden Eagles to a Final Four berth in 2003, highlighted a triple-double (29 pts./11 reb./11 asst.) during the Midwest Regional final against top-seeded Kentucky. Wade, who was recognized as a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021, had his No. 3 retired by Marquette (2007) and the Heat (2020).
Women’s Committee Finalists:
JENNIFER AZZI [Player] – Azzi is the 1990 Naismith College Player of the Year and Wade Trophy recipient after leading the Stanford Cardinal to the NCAA Championship where she was also named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Azzi also excelled on the international stage, winning a gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games and the 1990 and ’98 FIBA World Championships and playing four seasons abroad. Following her professional career overseas, Azzi co-founded the American Basketball League (ABL), where she was a three-time All-Star (1996-98), before embarking on a five-year stint in the WNBA (1999-2003). Azzi spent six seasons as head coach at the University of San Francisco (2010-16), leading the Dons to back-to-back postseason appearances in her final two years. Her 2015-16 squad went 21-12 and earned the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1997. In 2009, Azzi was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2021, became a member of the USA Basketball board of directors. She currently serves as the Chief Business Development Officer for the Las Vegas Aces.
GARY BLAIR [Coach] – Winner of the 2011 NCAA National Championship with Texas A&M University, Blair went 852-348 (.710) in 37 seasons as head coach at Stephen F. Austin University (1985-93), the University of Arkansas (1993-03) and Texas A&M (2003-22). His 852 victories ranked 12th all-time at the time of his retirement. Blair’s teams earned 23 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a pair of Final Fours (1998 with Arkansas and 2011 with Texas A&M), becoming the third Division I women’s basketball coach to lead two different teams to the Final Four. The veteran Marine, who posted only two losing seasons, was a two-time Women’s Basketball New Service Coach of the Year winner and was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year honors twice (2003, ’07). Blair has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack Hall of Fame (2008), Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2012), Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2013) and the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame (2022).
BECKY HAMMON [Player] – Hammon is a six-time WNBA All-Star (2003, ’05-07, ’09, ’11) and earned First-Team All-WNBA honors twice (2007, ’09). She averaged 13.9 points and 3.8 assists per game over 16 seasons in the WNBA with the New York Liberty (1996-2006) and San Antonio Stars (2007-14) and was named to the league’s 15th (2011), 20th (2016) and 25th (2021) Anniversary Teams. The South Dakota native averaged a WNBA career-high 19.5 points in 2009, and on August 31, 2011, became the seventh player in WNBA history to score 5,000 points. During her collegiate career at Colorado State University, Hammon earned All-American honors three times and led the Rams to a Sweet 16 berth in 1999. From 2014-21, Hammon served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports. Following her time with the Spurs, Hammon was named the Las Vegas Aces head coach on Dec. 31, 2021, and in her first season at the helm, led the Aces to a 26-10 record and the 2022 WNBA Finals Championship – the first rookie head coach to capture a WBNA title. Her No. 25 was retired by Colorado State in 2005 and the San Antonio/Las Vegas franchise in 2016. Hammon has been inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2022).
MARIAN WASHINGTON [Coach] – Washington guided the University of Kansas women’s basketball team for 31 seasons (1973-2004) and recorded a school-record 560 wins. The Jayhawks made 11 NCAA tournament appearances under her guidance, including two trips to the Sweet 16 (1996, ‘97), and won at least 20 games 17 times. Washington, who also served as Kansas’ director for women’s athletics from 1974-79, was named her conference’s coach of the year on three occasions (Big Eight – 1992, ’96; Big 12 – ’97). The West Chester, Penn., native also was a pioneer on the international stage, becoming one of the first two African American women to compete in basketball internationally at the 1971 World Championships and was the first black woman to coach a United States team in international competition in the 1982 R. William Jones Cup. She also served as an assistant coach for Team USA’s gold medal-winning squad in the 1996 Olympics, becoming the first African American to coach on a U.S. Olympic women’s basketball staff. Washington, who was the first female to serve as president of the Black Coaches Association, was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.