The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame will induct three Washington Wizards alumni: Chris Webber, Paul Pierce and Ben Wallace into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
International Committee: Toni Kukoc— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2021
You may have been caught off-guard with the Naismith HoF already hosting an induction ceremony yesterday, which included legends like the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tamika Catchings. Why is the Hall of Fame having two ceremonies this year?
That’s because Bryant’s, Duncan’s, Garnett’s and Catchings’ class was the 2020 class. Their induction ceremony was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their ceremony was also held at a larger venue: the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. as opposed to Springfield, Mass. to allow for social distancing. The current class’ induction will be later this year, traditionally in the late summer.
Of the three players, Webber had the longest career in Washington. He first came to Washington via trade before the 1994-95 season where he played for the Bullets/Wizards through the 1997-98 season. During that time, the Bullets made the NBA Playoffs in the 1996-97 season where he was also named an All-Star, averaging 20.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
Webber would later be traded to the Sacramento Kings where he would go on to make the All-Star Game four more times and be part of their franchise’s best teams of the 2000s where they made the 2001-02 Western Conference Finals. He played a total of 15 NBA seasons from 1993-2008.
Paul Pierce is best known as a long-time forward for the Boston Celtics from 1998-2013 where he was a 10-time NBA All-Star and won the 2008 NBA Finals. He became a journeyman later on who still had a lot left in the tank. In the 2014-15 NBA season, Pierce played for the Wizards, averaging 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. They were far off his career averages (19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists) but he was a reliable shooter and a veteran mentor to a young Bradley Beal and John Wall.
And he also made BIG-TIME SHOTS IN THE PLAYOFFS INCLUDING IN GAME THREE AGAINST THE ATLANTA HAWKS DURING THE SECOND ROUND!
Ben Wallace is best known as the Detroit Pistons’ starting center where he played for nine seasons (2000-06 and 2010-12). During his first stint, he made four All-Star Game appearances and was part of their 2003-04 NBA championship team. But before his glory days, Wallace spent his first three NBA seasons with the Bullets/Wizards from 1996-99, primarily as a reserve. Still, he averaged 3.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and started showing his potential here in the DMV.
The other inductees per Wojnarowski’s release are:
- Chris Bosh, NBA player, 2003-17 for the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat and 11 time NBA All-Star
- Toni Kukoc, NBA player, 1993-2006 and three-time EuroLeague Final Four MVP (1990, 1991, 1993)
- Lauren Jackson, WNBA player for the Seattle Storm, 2001-12 and three-time WNBA MVP (2003, 2007, 2010)
- Yolanda Griffith, WNBA player, 1999-2009 and 1999 WNBA MVP. She spent her best years with the Sacramento Monarchs, but also played for the Seattle Storm and Indiana Fever during her WNBA career.
- Rick Adelman, inducted as a coach, most notably for the Sacramento Kings from 1999-2006). He also coached the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Bill Russell, inducted as a coach, most notably for the Boston Celtics where he won two titles in 1968 and 1969. He also was the head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics (1973-77) and Sacramento Kings (1987-88). Russell is already inducted separately as a player.
- Jay Wright, inducted as a coach, most notably for Villanova University’s men’s basketball team since 2001. He also was Hofstra University’s men’s basketball head coach from 1994-2001.
- Val Ackerman, inducted as a contributor, is the Big East Conference Commissioner. She is best known as the WNBA’s first president from 1996-2005:
Congratulations to Chris, Paul and Ben for making the HoF!