Former NBA players Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich were among those elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
The Class of 2023 included French guard Parker, German forward Nowitzki, Spanish center Gasol, and US guard Wade, as well as Popovich, the Spurs’ coach since 1996.
“It’s a powerhouse class, really,” Gasol remarked. “I’m humbled and very lucky to be a part of this class with all these amazing people.”
“I feel like I’ve made it somewhere,” Wade explained. “I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Tony Parker’s Emotional Hall of Fame Speech: From Underdog to NBA Legend
Parker was a four-time NBA champion with San Antonio, a six-time NBA All-Star, and the Most Valuable Player in the 2007 NBA Finals.
“It was an unbelievable journey,” Parker added. “I never thought someone like me could go through something like that.” Keep dreaming big for all the youngsters watching.”
Parker broke down in tears as he thanked his family and praised his American and French background, stating, “I felt like I had the best of both cultures, and it helped me on my journey.”
“When I was in France, they used to tell me, ‘You’re too small.’” You’re far too thin. You’re never going to make it.’ “Well, I’m the one laughing now.”
Tony Parker played for Popovich’s Spurs from 2001 to 2018, and he retired from the NBA in 2019.
Parker told Popovich, “You’re incredible.” You tossed me in the flames when I was 19. Pop, you’ve always been like a second father to me. I appreciate all you’ve done for my family and me. Thank you very much. “I adore you.”
Popovich’s Response to Parker’s Speech and Dirk’s Speech
“I was very tough on him and expected a lot out of him,” Popovich recalled of Parker. I’m quite pleased with what he’s done.”
Popovich, the Spurs’ longest-tenured coach, has led the team to five championships and has been voted NBA Coach of the Year three times. He also coached the US gold medal basketball team in the Olympics in Tokyo.
Dirk Nowitzki spent his entire 21-year career with the Dallas Mavericks, where he was the NBA Finals MVP in 2011. Before retiring in 2019, he was the 2007 NBA MVP and a 14-time All-Star.
“I just wanted to thank my closest people,” Nowitzki stated. “I just want to make sure that the people who were with me on this journey get their flowers, and then I can ride off into the sunset.”
Pau Gasol’s Hall of Fame Journey: Championships, Gratitude, and Remembrance
Gasol was a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and a six-time NBA All-Star with Memphis, the Lakers, Chicago, San Antonio, and Milwaukee from 2001 to 2019.
“This moment is a testament to the support, guidance, and inspiration I’ve received from so many throughout my basketball journey,” Gasol said.
Gasol expressed gratitude to European NBA pioneers who paved the way for his entrance, stating, “I want to givea special mention to those first Europeans that came here, that crossed the ocean, that took a chance and opened doors for players like myself.”
Gasol sobbed as he remembered his old Lakers colleague Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna in 2020.
“I wouldn’t be here without you, brother,” Gasol declared. “I wish you and Gigi were here with us more than anything.” We miss and adore you.”
NBA Championships and Dreams: Dwyane Wade Enshrined in the Hall of Fame
Wade won three NBA championships with the Miami Heat and played for the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Dwayne was the NBA Finals MVP in 2006 and a 13-time All-Star.
“I believed in working hard, putting my head down, keeping my ears open, and just going to work,” Wade explained. “I had a dream, and I didn’t want anything to stand in the way of it.” I’ve made sure that I put in the effort and had every chance to be the best I could be.”
Six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon, the 1976 US Women’s Olympic team, and past coaches Gene Keady, Gary Blair, David Hixon, Gene Bess, and Jim Valvano were also inducted.
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