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Popovich, Wade, Nowitzki, Parker, Gasol headline Hall of Fame nominees

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 10: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks talks with Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs after the game on April 10, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The next Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class could be epic. One for the ages.

The Hall of Fame announced the first-time eligible candidates for the Class of 2023 and the list is jaw-dropping: Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich, Dwyane Wade, and the 1976 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team.

Every one of them should be in, let’s break down the NBA coach/players’ cases quickly:

• Gregg Popovich: The all-time winningest coach in NBA history, a five-time NBA champion, a three-time Coach of the Year, and he led Team USA to a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Maybe the better test: You can’t have a conversation about the greatest basketball coaches of all time and not mention his name.

The only surprise with Popovich is that he allowed his name to be entered, he had resisted up to this point. It was unexpected to see him on the list for that reason.

• Dirk Nowitzki: A member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team, he played 21 NBA seasons (all in Dallas) and is an NBA champion and Finals MVP, the 2006-07 NBA MVP, 12-time All-NBA, 14-time NBA All-Star, and is sixth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (31,560 points).

“It will be an unbelievable moment, really,” Nowitzki said of entering the Hall of Fame (technically, he still has to be voted in). “I mean, to top everything that has happened here the last couple years and words and accolades that have come my way, that will be the ultimate ... to be enshrined, hopefully, with the greatest in our game ever.”

• Dwyane Wade: A three-time NBA champion and the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, won an Olympic gold medal in 2008, is an eight-time All-NBA selection, 13-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-Defensive team and the league’s scoring champion in 2009.

• Pau Gasol: A lock based not only on his NBA career but also his international one. In the NBA Gasol was a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA, six-time All-Star, the 2002 Rookie of the Year, and he finished his career with 20,894 points and grabbed 11,305 rebounds. He was the face of the Memphis Grizzlies before teaming up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Internationally, he led Spain to a FIBA World Cup title, two Olympic silver medals, and three EuroBasket (European championship) titles, he was the MVP of the 2006 FIBA World Cup and the 2009 and 2015 FIBA EuroBasket. Gasol remains the all-time leading scorer in the EuroBasket.

• Tony Parker: A four-time NBA champion with Popovich’s Spurs and the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, he was also a four-time All-NBA player and six-time All-Star. Internationally he led France to the 2013 EuroBasket title and was named tournament MVP, and he is now second All-Time in EuroBasket scoring (to Gasol, with Nowitzki third). Traditionally the Hall of Fame lets in the core players from dynasty teams, and Parker certainly qualifies as that for the Spurs.

Also on the nominee list for the first time: Becky Hammon as a player (a six-time WNBA All-Star), the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s team, the 1982 Cheyney University women’s basketball team that became the first from a historically Black college to reach the NCAA championship game.