After going head-to-head in the NBA Finals in 2006 and 2011, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki found themselves on the same side for once on Saturday night.
Wade and Nowitzki were among those enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., part of a loaded 2023 class that featured a total of 12 new inductees.
Wade led the Heat to a title in 2006, being named Finals MVP after averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists as Miami toppled the Mavericks in six games.
Dallas got its revenge five years later, though, beating the Heat in six games for its only championship in franchise history. This time it was Nowitzki’s turn to secure Finals MVP honors, as he went for 26.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Twelve years removed from their latest clash on the NBA’s biggest stage, the two have gotten to know each other as people as opposed to competitors.
“For Dirk and me, it’s been therapy,” Wade said about his post-career journey with Nowitzki and some of the other inductees. “Who would have thought that we would be on the same team after all of our battles, but here we are, and it’s one of the greatest teams I’ve ever been on.”
Wade, 41, went on to win two more titles by the time his 16-year NBA career was all said and done. He was a 13-time All-Star and posted career averages of 22.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists, spending most of his time with Miami, where he spent 15 seasons.
After coming up short in the Finals in 2006, Nowitzki, 45, was named league MVP following the 2006-07 campaign. A 14-time All-Star, Nowitzki was a beacon of loyalty for over two decades, spending his entire 21-year career with the Mavericks. He averaged 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists across 1,522 games (1,460 starts).
If Wade and Nowitzki weren’t battling each other, they were often trying to fend off the Spurs. San Antonio was well-represented on Saturday night, as guard Tony Parker and longtime coach Gregg Popovich were also part of the Class of 2023.
Parker, 41, won four titles during his 17 seasons with the Spurs. Popovich, 74, was at the helm for all four of those championships, plus a fifth in 1999. Next season will be his 29th as San Antonio’s coach, and he heads into it with 1,366 regular-season wins along with 170 in the playoffs.
One of Popovich’s disciples, Becky Hammon, was also inducted to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. Following a successful playing career in the WNBA and overseas, the 46-year-old Hammon worked as an assistant on the Spurs’ staff from 2014-22. She is now head coach of the Las Vegas Aces, who currently own the best record in the WNBA at 26-3.
In her first season as coach of the Aces, Hammon led Las Vegas to its first title in franchise history.
“You’re a man of principle and excellence,” Hammon said to Popovich. “I know you weren’t trying to be courageous when you hired me, but you did do something nobody else in professional sports has ever done.
“You display excellence, you expect excellence and model how to become excellent in your everyday routine and how you go about your work.”
Longtime Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol also made his way into the Hall of Fame. Gasol, 43, was a two-time NBA champion, six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection and was the 2002 Rookie of the Year.
Earlier this year, the Lakers retired Gasol’s No. 16 jersey, putting it up in the rafters next to the No. 24 jersey of the late Kobe Bryant, whom Gasol played with for seven seasons.
“The person who elevated my game like no other. Who taught me what it took to win at the highest level. Who showed me how hard you had to work, and the mentality you needed to have in order to be the best. The commitment you had to make, what it meant and what it took to be a leader,” Gasol said. “Kobe.
“… I wouldn’t be here without you brother. I wish more than anything that you and Gigi (Bryant’s daughter) were here today with us. I miss you and love you.”
Other inductees included legendary Three Rivers College coach Gene Bess, longtime women’s NCAA coach Gary Blair, former Amherst College coach David Hixon, former Purdue men’s basketball coach Gene Keady and Jim Valvano, who had a successful career as a men’s college coach and broadcaster after playing at Rutgers from 1964-67.
The 1976 U.S. Women’s Olympic team also cracked the 2023 class.
Saturday’s induction ceremony was held at Symphony Hall in Springfield, less than a mile away from the Hall of Fame.
–Field Level Media
Original source here
#Dwyane #Wade #Dirk #Nowitzki #among #inducted #HOF