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NBA stars Wade, Parker, Gasol, Nowitzki among Hall finalists

Dirk Nowitzki, & Dwyane Wade look on during the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on August 12, 2023 at Springfield Marriott in Springfield, Massachusetts. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

Retired NBA stars Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Dirk Nowitzki were among 12 finalists named on Friday for the 2023 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The international superstar foursome and Gregg Popovich, a five-time NBA champion coach with the San Antonio Spurs, were all first-time nominees to join the game’s all-time greats.

Other finalists named by the women’s and North American committees at the NBA All-Star festivities in Salt Lake City, Utah, included six-time Women’s NBA All-Star Becky Hammon, 1996 Olympic champion Jennifer Azzi and long-time US college coaches Gene Keady, Gene Bess, David Hixon, Gary Blair, and Marian Washington.

The 2023 group to be inducted, including those from direct-elect committees, will be announced on April 1 in Houston with the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on August 12 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In all, 11 of the 12 were finalists for the first time, but especially notable was the NBA talent nominated for the first time.

“It’s a loaded class,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “This is unique in that we have a lot of first-time people.

“It’s unusual when somebody makes it on the first ballot but this is going to be that unique a class because there could be four or five first-timers. We’re excited.”

It will be hard to ignore the global greats who were inspired by the 1992 US Olympic “Dream Team” of NBA icons who rolled to gold in Barcelona.

“I definitely had a dream of playing in the NBA,” Spain’s Gasol said Friday. “That ’92 team that came to Barcelona touched many kids’ lives in my generation.

“So it was like, ‘Wow, these guys are incredible, I want to do that.'”

Gasol was the first non-US player to win NBA Rookie of the Year and the six-time NBA All-Star won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“These types of recognitions, which are an amazing honor, they come along when you do things very, very well for a long time — when you love what you do,” Gasol said.

“I’m just privileged to have played the game for so long at a high level with amazing people that have taught me so much.”

French guard Parker won four NBA titles and was the 2007 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

The six-time All-Star helped Popovich become the longest-tenured coach in US sports and the NBA’s winningest coach, with five NBA titles and Tokyo Olympic gold.

Germany’s Nowitzki played 21 years for the Dallas Mavericks, earning NBA MVP honors in 2007 and an NBA crown in 2011.

Wade was a three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star who also won the 2008 Olympic gold.

“I felt I did it every day and I did it in so many different ways,” Wade said.

“To be able to find a way throughout the journey of basketball to become a complete player… I felt I gave the game everything I had and I did it every day.”

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