The 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame class was announced on Sunday afternoon with Celtics legends Bill Russell and Paul Pierce being the headlining names among the class. Joining Pierce from NBA players are Chris Webber, Chris Bosh and Ben Wallace. The coaches being inducted are Rick Adelman, Jay Wright and Russell. WNBA players Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson are among the inductees as well. Here’s a look at the entire class as listed above.
2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Class:— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 16, 2021
Players: Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Ben Wallace; Coaches: Rick Adelman, Jay Wright, Bill Russell. WNBA: Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson.
Also getting in among the international committee is former Chicago Bulls legend Toni Kukoc, who is among the best Croatian basketball players ever.
Let’s start with the NBA player class, which is pretty decent. Pierce is one of the best Celtics to ever live. Pierce leads the franchise in 3-point field goals, free throws made and steals. He’s also in the top 5 in points, games played and assists. Pierce helped lead Boston to a championship in 2008 and also made another appearance in the NBA Finals in 2010. He is a 10-time All-Star, 4-time All-NBA and was named Finals MVP in ‘08.
C-Webb was the No. 1 overall pick in 1993 after an impressive career at Michigan University (up until the end). He played 15 seasons for the Warriors, Washington Bullets, Sacramento Kings and briefly Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers. Webber won ROTY in 93-94 and was a 5-time All-Star, nearly finishing his career averaging 20-10. Despite his accomplishments and talent, Webber never made it to an NBA Finals, falling short once in his prime in 2002 and then again with the 2007 with Detroit.
Big Ben Wallace is one of the best defensive players of all-time. He was named to the All-Defensive team six times and won Defensive Player of the Year four times, you know, back when teams still played defense. Wallace was a four-time All-Star despite finishing his career with a 5.7 points per game average. All four of those honors were because of how dominant Wallace was on defense. He also has a ring, helping the Pistons take down the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, a team that featured four HOFers in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
Yolanda Griffith is the best athlete ever from Florida Atlantic University, and was the 1999 WNBA MVP and 2005 Finals MVP, winning the only title in the dissolved franchise’s history. She won two gold medals for the USA in 2000 and 2004, and also had a spectacular overseas career in Germany, Italy, and Russia.
Lauren Jackson is one of the most decorated female athletes in the history of Australia in any sport, winning three MVP awards and two championships for the Seattle Storm. Women’s basketball had never seen a 6’5” player that could shoot three-pointers before, but Jackson’s inside-outside game was revolutionary for the sport. The 1.0 version of Breanna Stewart, she also won four titles in the WNBL, the national league of Australia, for the Canberra Capitals. She also won three silver medals in the Olympics (losing the USA each time between 2000 and 2008) and a bronze for the Opals.
If you didn’t pay close attention to the context, you might have been wondering why Bill Russell is only now just getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. Fret not. He was inducted as a player back in 1975. This induction is for his time as a coach. Russell entered the coaching ranks as a player/coach when he replaced Red Auerbach as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Russell became head coach in 1966 and was a player/coach for the final three seasons of his legendary career. The Celtics won the NBA title in his final two seasons as player/coach. After retiring, Russell became the fifth head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. He held that role for four years, guiding the franchise to its first two playoff appearances.