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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will open its doors to four former NBA stars, a legendary college coach and a pair of women’s basketball greats as part of the Class of 2018, it was announced Saturday.
NBA stars Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Maurice Cheeks and Charlie Scott headline the class, along with longtime college coach Lefty Driesell and women’s standouts Katie Smith and Tina Thompson.
Also part of the class are executives Rick Welts and Rod Thorn, along with Dino Radja and Ora Mae Washington.
Kidd expressed appreciation for the honor.
“It’s just very humbling, surreal, to have this opportunity to play a game that you love and to be honored with this class,” he said. “I would like to thank the Hall of Fame for doing this. And again, this being a team sport, it’s about my teammates and coaches, so hopefully I’m representing them well here today.”
Nash said the honor is perfect capper to his career.
“This is an incredible feeling, obviously,” he said. “To cap a career in this way. This is an individual recognition, but truly what makes this special is to share in my journey with so many people that go in with me. But most importantly, to share this recognition with this class and all the Hall of Famers that come before us is incredibly special and is what makes this honor such a prideful thing for me and my family.”
Allen spoke of the long, winding road he has taken to reach this point.
“It’s a long journey” he said. “I think about everybody who has had a hand in my growth. Not only as an athlete, but as a person. I think about being a young kid when I first started this game. Not only the people who inspired me to be better, but the people who challenged me by being negative in my direction, also allowed me to be better.
“I think about all the teammates I’ve ever played with. I think about every moment I had to question who I was. In those moments, I didn’t give up on myself. I think about my children, as I go into the Hall, their names will always be in the Hall of Fame. It’s an example for them as they move forward in their lives. To be able to set this example and to be able to go in with this class of individuals, people who I’ve admired and respected, and used their example to grow who I am. The honor is certainly all mine.”
Driesell expressed appreciation for his players.
“I feel humble and grateful for all the players that played for me,” he said. “I think this is more for my players and my coaching staff and my trainers and athletic directors that hired me than it is for me. I’m 86 years old, so I want them to enjoy it. I probably won’t be around too long to enjoy it. I’m proud of my players, the teams that I coached, the institutions I represented. It’s just a big, big honor. It’s the capstone to my professional career.”