Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Michael Cooper, Lauren Jackson, Ben Wallace and Yolanda Griffith are among the finalists in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2021, announced Tuesday on ESPN’s The Jump.
Pierce, a first-time nominee, spent 15 of his 19 NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning a championship and Finals MVP in 2008. He is a 10-time All-Star and second on the Los Angeles’ career scorers list. Celtics behind John Havlicek.
Bosh was first nominated with the 2020 class, but was not named a finalist. His playing career ended unexpectedly in 2016 after 13 seasons due to a blood clot problem. Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, a two-time NBA champion and an Olympic gold medalist, officially retired in 2019 as a member of the Miami Heat.
Webber, the top pick in 1993, was a five-time All-Star in his 17 NBA seasons and a leading role on Michigan’s “Fab Five,” whose legacy has reshaped college basketball for more than two decades.
Cooper spent 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers as a member of the “Showtime” era, winning five championships. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and was included on the All-Defensive team five times. After his playing career, he went on to coach the Los Angeles Sparks, winning two championships and as the WNBA Coach of the Year in 2000.
Jackson is one of the most decorated female players, winning the WNBL Most Valuable Player award four times and the WNBA Most Valuable Player award three times. A three-time WNBA scoring champion and seven-time WNBA All-Star, she won Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and was named the 2010 WNBA Finals MVP while leading the Seattle Storm to a championship.
Wallace, one of the best defenders in NBA history, was a four-time All-Star. He won a championship in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons. With a career average of just 5.7 points per game, Wallace was named to six All-Defense teams and is one of two players (Dikembe Mutombo is the other) to win four Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Griffith, an eight-time WNBA All-Star, won a WNBA championship in 2005 and was named Finals MVP with the Sacramento Monarchs.
Five-time All-Star Marques Johnson and five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway are also finalists.
Also named a finalist in this year’s class: Coach Rick Adelman, the ninth-winningest coach in NBA history; Villanova coach Jay Wright, two-time NCAA champion; coach Marianne Stanley, who led Old Dominion to an NCAA title in 1985; Coach Leta Andrews, the winningest high school coach of all time, male or female.
NBA legend Bill Russell is also a finalist, but in this case as a coach. Russell, who was inducted as a player in 1975, was the NBA’s first black head coach and led the Celtics to back-to-back championships in 1968 and 1969.
Notable nominees who missed the cutoff for the class of 2021: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Becky Hammon and Swin Cash.
The entire class of 2021 will be unveiled during the NCAA Final Four, scheduled for early April.
Class 2021 is scheduled to be admitted in Springfield, Massachusetts, in September. The 2020 consecration ceremony, for a star-studded group led by Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, was rescheduled and relocated and is scheduled for May 13-15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.