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Celebrating the iconic legends of basketball

Since the suspension of all sports last month, audiences are finding new ways to stay engaged in their favorite sports and in doing so are looking to Hall of Fame activity. statistical analysis and prerequisites for players to become Hall of Fame nominees. The NBA has about 450 players, and roughly less than 5% will make the Hall Fame after they’ve called it a career. However, the Hall of Fame also includes coaches across all of basketball, including the WNBA’s players and coaches as well, making it harder for everyone to get a coveted spot.

To achieve the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Induction, a player, coach or administrator must receive 75% of the votes from the Honors Committee, led by Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo is an American executive businessman and sports executive that has owned several sports teams and currently manages the USA nationals basketball program. This year’s induction list included the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich. 

Kobe Bean Bryant, arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the game, starts off this honoree list. Bryant’s career accolades include being selected to the NBA All-Star Team eight times, in addition to receiving 11 All-NBA First Team selections. As an All-Star, he earned the game’s MVP trophy four times in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011. He was also a five-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, dominating the 2000s. Bryant was named the 2008 NBA MVP while taking home the Finals’ MVP in both 2009 and 2010. He famously scored the second-most points in a single game in NBA history with 81 and led the NBA in total points for four seasons. He ranks fourth on the NBA’s career points list with 33,643, but he will continue to be argued as the greatest player to ever lace up by Lakers fans.

Next on the list is one of the most consistent big men to ever play the game. Tim Duncan was one of a few dominant NBA players whose career began with a full four-year college education. He earned ACC Player of the Year and was a unanimous First Team All-American in 1996 and 1997. In the same year, he also collected the Wooden, Naismith, Rupp and Oscar Robertson Awards, while being named AP College Player of the Year. Duncan’s NBA accolades included winning rookie of the year in 1998 before a tenure as a 15-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He is also a five-time NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs, having earned Finals MVP three times. Duncan claimed two MVP trophies in back-to-back seasons, securing the hardware in 2002 and 2003. Duncan is the only player in NBA history with more than 1,000 wins with one team, which he amassed in his 19 years with the Spurs.

Known as the “Big Ticket” from Farragut Academy, Kevin Garnett, an idol of Bryant, was drafted straight out of high school and went on to have an illustrious career. Garnett was a five-time NBA All-Star and won the 2008 NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics. Widely regarded for his passion and intensity on the court, Garnett secured nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections while also leading the league in rebounds for four consecutive seasons from 2004-2008. Garnett was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 after leading Boston on a historic run. While playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004, Garnett led the league in total points, field goals made and total rebounds while earning his lone league MVP. He ranks ninth all-time in league history for rebounds. Garnett played 21 NBA seasons and is currently ranked fourth in all-time minutes played with 50,418.

Next is 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Tamika Catchings. After winning WNBA MVP in 2011, she led the Indiana Fever to a WNBA Championship in 2012 while collecting WNBA Finals MVP honors. She played her entire 14-year WNBA career with the Fever while being named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year five times and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2002. As the WNBA all-time steals leader, Catchings was named a member of the WNBA top 20 players in the league’s 20-year history in 2016. Additionally, with Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols, Catchings won a national championship in 1998 and was named a four-time Kodak First Team All-American, as well as the consensus National Player of the Year in 2000. She is currently the vice president of basketball operations and general manager for the Indiana Fever. 

Baylor’s Kim Mulkey has elevated Baylor basketball to the powerhouse level. Mulkey has led the Baylor Bears to three NCAA National Championships over the past two decades and ranks third all-time among head coaches in win percentage. In 2012, Mulkey was named the Consensus National College Coach of the Year, earning the Naismith Coach of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year, WBCA National Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year. As the head coach of Baylor since 2000, she has guided her team to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances including 13 Sweet Sixteens, eight Elite Eights and four Final Four appearances. Her Baylor squad has also won 10 Big 12 regular season championships and 10 Big 12 Tournament championships, earning her Big 12 Coach of the Year honors seven times. Currently, she is the first person, male or female, to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

Basketball starts for some programs at the Division II level. Barbara Stevens is a household name, having coached for over 40 collegiate years and becoming the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins. She has been named the Russell Athletic/WBCA Division II National Coach of the year five times and Northeast10 Coach of the Year 15 times. As the head coach of Bentley University since 1986, she has guided her team to 22 separate 25-win seasons and 10 trips to the Division II Fab Four, including a national championship in 2014. This will mark her third Hall of Fame since she has been inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Most NBA fans probably don’t know much about the college game besides hearing about Coach K’s program at Duke, March Madness or the top high school recruits. Eddie Sutton, an iconic trailblazer for many coaches at the collegiate level, could put college basketball on more people’s radar. Sutton was named the National Coach of the Year four times, Conference Coach of the Year eight times and is the first coach in NCAA history to lead four different schools in the NCAA Tournament. Sutton ranks in the top 10 among Division I coaches in all-time victories and has recorded only one losing season in 37 years of coaching. He coached Oklahoma State University from 1991-2006 and tied the conference record for wins by a first-year coach with 24. Collectively, Sutton guided his teams to three Final Fours, six Elite Eights and 12 Sweet Sixteen appearances.

Rounding out the list is another industry-proven professional whose career spanned from a player to assistant coach to head coach. Rudy Tomjanovich spent 34 years with the Houston Rockets from 1970 to 2003. Tomjanovich’s biggest impact came after his time on the hardwood, as he led the Rockets to multiple playoff berths and deep runs as head coach from 1992 to 2002, including winning back to back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. Tomjanovich was forced to leave his position midway through the 2002-03 season after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, which he would go on to beat. He attempted to make a return to coaching in 2005, aiming to take over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers following the retirement of Phil Jackson, but the complications from his recovery made coaching too physically demanding for Tomjanovich. 

The Class of 2020 will be enshrined during the events at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on Aug. 28-30.  This year’s group was selected with great regard for the character of all chosen, as these inductees have created many basketball memories and bolstered the off-the-court community and business engagement. Being able to highlight their achievements amidst the world’s issues is great for both the inductees and the fans remembering watching those legends in action. 

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