Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade headline loaded list of finalists for Hall of Fame's Class of 2023
SALT LAKE CITY — Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker headline the list of 12 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as the greatest class of international players in the sport's history. All three are finalists on their first ballot, as is Dwyane Wade, and the lot of them should be locks four years after they all retired in 2019.
The Hall of Fame announced its list of finalists on Friday of All-Star weekend. The official Class of 2023 will be unveiled during the NCAA Final Four on April 1. This year's honorees will then be enshrined on Aug. 12.
Legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joins his longtime point guard Parker as a finalist. Both should follow Tim Duncan (a 2021 inductee) and Manu Ginobili (a 2022 inductee) into the Hall of Fame. They won four championships as a quartet. Becky Hammon, who joined Popovich's coaching staff for the tail end of the dynasty, was also named a finalist for her contributions to the game as a player.
The Hall of Fame's other finalists for the Class of 2023 are Jennifer Azzi, Gary Blair, Marian Washington, Gene Bess, David Hixon and Gene Keady.
More on the headliners of this year's list of finalists:
2011 NBA champion (Finals MVP)
2007 NBA MVP
14-time NBA All-Star
12-time All-NBA selection (four-time First Team, five-time Second Team)
Sixth on NBA's all-time scoring list (31,560 points)
Nowitzki retired as the greatest European player in basketball history, setting the NBA table for its current list of foreign-born superstars, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic. The ninth overall pick in the 1998 draft, Nowitzki played 21 NBA seasons, all for the Dallas Mavericks, winning league MVP honors in 2007. His march to the title in 2011 — defeating Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder and LeBron James' Miami Heat — cemented his legacy as an all-timer.
Only James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Bryant and Michael Jordan have scored more points than Nowitzki, who also retired as the greatest shooting big man in league history. No player taller than 6-foot-9 has made more 3-pointers in his career than the 7-foot Nowitzki's 1,982, and his signature move — a one-legged mid-range fadeaway — is appropriately in bronze outside the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
In addition to his NBA accomplishments, Nowitzki led his native Germany to a silver medal at the 2005 EuroBasket tournament and a bronze medal at the 2002 World Cup, earning MVP honors at both events.
Three-time NBA champion (2006, 2012, 2013)
2006 Finals MVP
13-time NBA All-Star
Eight-time All-NBA selection (two-time First Team, three-time Second Team)
The fifth overall pick in 2003, Wade made an immediate impact in the NBA as a lightning-quick finisher, delivering the Miami Heat its first-ever championship as the 2006 Finals MVP (over teammate Shaquille O'Neal) in his third season. Wade's 30.2 points per game led the NBA in 2009, when he placed third in the league MVP race, his highest finish. A year later, James and Chris Bosh joined Wade in Miami, forming a legendary triumvirate that won two titles and reached the Finals every season of their four together.
Wade played 15 of his 16 NBA seasons for the Heat, only briefly joining his hometown Chicago Bulls and reuniting with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wade retired in 2019, as knee problems, which lingered from a meniscus surgery 17 years earlier as a sophomore at Marquette, derailed his career in his mid-30s. He walked away from the game as arguably its third-greatest shooting guard behind Jordan and Bryant.
Wade was also a member of the 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. men's national team.
Two-time NBA champion (2009, 2010)
Six-time NBA All-Star
Four-time All-NBA selection (two-time Second Team)
2006 FIBA World Cup gold medalist, three-time Olympic medalist
One of the most underrated stars in NBA history, Gasol emerged as an All-Star on the Memphis Grizzlies before a 2008 trade to the Los Angeles Lakers paired him with Bryant. They reached three straight Finals, winning championships in 2009 and 2010, and Gasol warranted Finals MVP consideration in the latter year, when his 19 points and 18 rebounds helped the Lakers win a gritty Game 7 against the rival Boston Celtics.
Gasol made two All-Star appearances for the Chicago Bulls and reached the 2017 Western Conference finals on the 61-win San Antonio Spurs. One of the most savvy and skilled bigs ever, Gasol joins Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett as the only players to record 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks in their careers. Gasol last played in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019.
Playing alongside his younger brother, Marc, the NBA's 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol turned Spain into the greatest threat to U.S. dominance on the international stage. He won three Olympic medals, including silver in 2008 and 2012, and a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Cup. Gasol led Spain to three EuroBasket championships, capturing MVP honors in 2009 and 2015. He also sandwiched three titles in Spain's top league around his NBA career, winning championships with Barcelona in 1999, 2001 and 2021.
Four-time NBA champion (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
2007 Finals MVP
Six-time NBA All-Star
Four-time All-NBA selection (three-time Second Team)
The 28th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Parker partnered with Duncan and Ginobili to form the winningest trio in NBA history. Parker started every game as a 20-year-old on San Antonio's 2003 title team, running point for Duncan and David Robinson. The Spurs would win three more championships with Parker at the helm, and his series-best 24.5 points per game in the 2007 Finals earned him MVP honors.
Parker cut like a knife through NBA defenses in the pick-and-roll, spinning to the basket for floaters and wrong-footed layups or pulling up for an increasingly deadly mid-range jump shot. Among foreign-born players, only Nowitzki, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Gasol scored more NBA points than Parker's 19,473, and Steve Nash is the lone international player to record more NBA assists than Parker's 7,036.
Parker won four medals with France in EuroBasket competition, including gold in 2013, when he was named the MVP. He briefly held the tournament's all-time scoring record, before Gasol eclipsed it in 2017.
Five-time NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014)
Three-time NBA Coach of the Year
NBA all-time wins leader (1,358)
Popovich is the architect of a Spurs dynasty that won five championships and reached the playoffs a record 22 consecutive times from 1998-2019. As general manager in San Antonio, he hired himself as head coach 18 games into the 1996-97 season, tanked and landed Duncan with the No. 1 overall draft pick. The Spurs won at least two-thirds of their games in 17 of their next 20 seasons, including five 60-win campaigns.
Popovich's Spurs were the mark of consistency, winning the first and last of their five titles 15 years apart, culminating in a 2014 run to the championship that featured what might be the most beautiful basketball the game has ever seen — an orchestra of ball movement that prioritized great shots over good ones.
Popovich passed Don Nelson as the winningest coach in league history in March of last season. Beloved for his love-hate relationship with the media and staunch support for social justice, Popovich is considered one of the NBA's four greatest coaches of all-time, along with Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley.
Six-time WNBA All-Star
Four-time All-WNBA selection (two-time First Team)
A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon joined the WNBA as an undrafted free agent in 1999 and became one of the league's pioneers, making three All-Star appearances apiece with the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars. She reached four WNBA Finals in the first 10 seasons of her 16-year career.
A three-level scorer and table-setting point guard, Hammon ranks 15th on the WNBA's career scoring list and sixth on the league's all-time assists ledger. She has named to the WNBA's 15th, 20th and 25th anniversary teams, most recently making the official list of the 25 greatest players in league history in 2021.
Hammon played overseas in Spain and Russia, winning the 2010 Spanish League title. She became a Russian citizen and twice represented the country in the Olympics, earning a bronze medal in 2008.
In her post-playing career, Hammon joined Popovich's staff on the Spurs in 2014, becoming the first full-time female assistant coach in any of North America's four major sports leagues. Passed over for multiple head-coaching jobs in the NBA, Hammon accepted the job as lead coach of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces in December 2021. She coached the team to a league-best record and a championship in her first season.