The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced the finalists for its 2021 class, including an icon of the game who's already enshrined and a worthy candidate who missed his first ballot amid a loaded class.
Bill Russell, Chris Bosh and Paul Pierce headline the list of 14 finalists the Hall named on Tuesday.
Bill Russell was NBA's first Black head coach
Russell, long enshrined as a player, is a finalist as head coach. After winning 11 NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics, Russell returned to the franchise as the league's first Black head coach in 1966. The Celtics won two more championships with Russell as coach over three seasons. Russell also coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings, tallying a 340-291 record (.540) in eight seasons.
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Bosh is on the ballot for a second year after missing the cut in a loaded 2020 class that saw Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett voted in. Bosh won two championships with the Miami Heat alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and helped usher in the modern era of versatile big men.
Pierce, another Celtics icon, is a finalist on his first ballot. He retired as the Celtics' second all-time scoring leader behind John Havlicek and helped lead Boston to the 2008 NBA championship alongside Garnett and Ray Allen. The title ended a 22-year championship drought in Boston.
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The other finalists named Tuesday are former NBA players Michael Cooper, Ben Wallace, Chris Webber, Tim Hardaway and Marques Johnson, former WNBA players Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Johnson, former NBA head coach Rick Adelman, WNBA head coach Marianne Stanley, Villanova head coach Jay Wright and Leta Andrews, the all-time winningest coach in high school basketball.
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