US Sports Veteran
Publish Date: 05/16/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
The day after the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its historic Class of 2020, the final stop for many basketball immortals announced the Class of 2021 on Twitter. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed the full class, which includes several prominent returning candidates. The Hall of Fame will enshrine its newest class on Sept. 11.[mytwitter url=”https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/1393957914516283392″]
Paul Pierce is the only first-ballot selection among NBA players in this year’s class, while Chris Bosh, Ben Wallace, and Chris Webber are returning candidates. Former WNBA MVPs Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson round out a strong modern player class. NBA coaches Rick Adelman and Bill Russell and Villanova legend Jay Wright are also headed to Springfield.
Toni Kukoč, a former three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, is also a member of this class via the International Committee. The Veteran’s Committee selected four-time All-Star Bob Dandridge as an inductee. He’s joined by contributors Val Ackerman, Cotton Fitzsimmons, and Howard Garfinkel, Pearl Moore from the Women’s Veterans Committee, and Clarence Jenkins from the Early African American Pioneers Committee.
The Class of 2021 doesn’t rival its predecessor, which included Kobe Bryant, Tamika Catchings, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. However, this year’s group has many unique storylines that should garner an emotional and positive response from basketball fans. It features many NBA players that were long-time candidates with over a decade of combined waiting time.
Bosh went to 11 All-Star games during his 13 NBA seasons before blood clots prematurely ended his career. Toronto’s all-time leader in blocks and rebounds, Bosh won two championships with the Miami Heat and snagged one of the most important rebounds in league history. However, he had a much shorter wait for Springfield than Wallace or Webber.
Wallace is one of the best defensive players of the 21st century. He only averaged 5.7 points per game during his career, but that number doesn’t encapsulate his impact. Wallace was the defensive centerpiece on the Detroit Pistons when they won a championship in 2004. He and Dikembe Mutombo are the only players in league history with four Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Wallace becomes the first undrafted player in NBA history to make the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Webber became a basketball icon at the University of Michigan, where he was the best member of the Fab Five. During his 15-year professional career, Webber made five All-NBA teams, five All-Star appearances, and amassed 17,182 points. He became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013.
Pierce spent 19 seasons in the NBA, amassing ten All-Star appearances and 26,397 points. The Truth earned four All-NBA selections and was the 2008 Finals MVP when the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, Pistons, and Los Angeles Lakers in consecutive series. He, Ray Allen, and Garnett formed one of the first successful super teams of the 2000s.
Basketball fans should also recognize Griffith’s name. She was the second overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft and was the league Defensive Player of the Year and MVP as a rookie. Griffith made seven All-Star appearances and earned five All-WNBA selections during her 11-year career. She was the Finals MVP when Sacramento claimed a title in 2005.
Jackson is one of the best basketball players in history. Only she, Lisa Leslie, and Sheryl Swoopes have won the WNBA MVP award three times. During her 12-year career, spent entirely with Seattle, Jackson earned All-WNBA 1st Team honors seven times and was the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year. She won two titles and was the Finals MVP in 2010.
Stay tuned as a historic week for basketball continues as the WNBA’s season takes off while the NBA’s regular season comes to an end.