Ten-time NBA All-Star Paul Pierce and player and coach Doug Collins highlight the first-time nominees for the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class, it was announced Tuesday.
Other first-time eligible candidates include NBA defensive standout Michael Cooper, WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson, college coaches Lou Henson and Leonard Hamilton, as well as former WNBA president Val Ackerman.
Among those back on the ballot are former NBA players Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Chris Webber, college coaches Bob Huggins and Jay Wright and former WNBA stars Swin Cash and Becky Hammon.
Pierce spent 15 of his 19 NBA seasons (1998-2017) with the Boston Celtics and ranks 19th all-time with 26,397 points. He was NBA Finals MVP in 2008 when the Celtics won the title.
Collins was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and the No. 1 overall draft pick with the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1973 draft. He was an All-Star four times in his eight seasons (1973-81). He went 442-407 in 11 seasons as a coach with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and the 76ers.
Cooper was part of five Los Angeles Lakers’ championship teams during his 12 seasons (1978-91) and was NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1986-87 and was named to the All-Defensive team eight times. He later coached the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks to two titles.
Jackson was a three-time MVP and seven-time All-Star in 12 seasons (2001-12) for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. She was WNBA Finals MVP when Seattle won the 2010 title.
Henson, who died earlier this year at age 88, is the all-time leader in victories at both Illinois (423) and New Mexico State (289) and led both schools to the Final Four — the Fighting Illini in 1989 and the Aggies in 1970. He had a 779-412 overall record, according to the NCAA.
Hamilton is in his 19th season at Florida State and 33rd overall counting stints at Oklahoma State (1986-90) and Miami (1990-2000). He has a 587-432 record and has posted the most wins (387) in Florida State history.
Ackerman was the first president of the WNBA, serving in that role from 1996-2005. She is currently the commissioner of the Big East.
The 2021 class is currently scheduled to be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., in September.
The 2020 induction ceremonies were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and have been rescheduled for May 13-15 at Uncasville, Conn.
The 2020 class is led by the late Kobe Bryant and also includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Rudy Tomjanovich, college coach Eddie Sutton, WNBA star Tamika Catchings and women’s college coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens.