Credit: Basketball HOF
Credit Basketball HOF

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame held the enshrinement ceremony for the Class of 2021 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The 16-person Class entered the Hall of Fame. A group was headlined by Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, Ben Wallace, Toni Kukoc, Chris Webber, Yolanda Griffith, and Lauren Jackson.

Toni Kukoc has become the 11th European player in the Hall of Fame and joined Sergej Belov, Kresimir Cosic, Drazen Petrovic, Dino Meneghin, Drazen Dalipagic, Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis, Nikos Galis, Dino Radja, and Vlade Divac.

Three-time NBA Champion, 1995-96 6th Man of the Year, 1993-94 All-Rookie, and three-time EuroLeague MVP was accompanied by Michael Jordan. Kukoc did not surprise anyone as he mentioned one of the greatest players in his speech.

"I would like to thank Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for kicking my butt during the Olympics in Barcelona, and then motivating me to work even harder to become an important part of the Chicago Bulls," the 52-year-old said.

He added: “My sincere gratitude goes to Mr. Jerry Reinsdorf and the late Jerry Krause for insisting on bringing me to the Chicago Bulls and believing in me as a player when it was not common for non-American players to play in the NBA.”

Bill Russell has become the fifth person to enter the Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. He is a 11-time NBA champion, 12-time NBA All-Star, and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

The Boston Celtics legend received a message from former President of the United States Barrack Obama. Russell was the first African-American head coach to win an NBA title with the Celtics in 1968.

Ten-time NBA All-Star and NBA champion, Paul Pierce thanked the teams which passed on him and admitted: "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a Hall of Famer. The initial dream as a kid is to make it to the league. Now to be enshrined is basketball lore is more than I could ever imagine."

Two-time NBA champion and eleven-time NBA All-Star, Chris Bosh told that it is hard to believe that he is in the same enshrinement ceremony with basketball superheroes like Chris Webber and Bill Russell.

Undrafted athlete and four-time NBA All-Star, Ben Wallace forged a career that leaves him as one of the most dominant defensive big men of all time. In his resume, Wallace has 4 NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also was NBA blocks leader in 2002 and five times entered NBA All-Defensive First Team.

"No was not an option. I kept marching. I kept fighting, I kept winning, I kept succeeding. Be strong, be motivated, stand tall," said Wallace in his speech.

Five-time NBA All-Star and NBA Rookie of the Year, Chris Webber praised Isiah Thomas for his huge impact on Webber's career.

Class of 2021 inductees

North American Committee

  • Rick Adelman
  • Chris Bosh
  • Paul Pierce
  • Bill Russell
  • Ben Wallace
  • Chris Webber
  • Jay Wright 

Women's Committee

  • Yolanda Griffith
  • Lauren Jackson

Contributor Committee Direct Elections

  • Val Ackerman 
  • Cotton Fitzsimmons 
  • Howard Garfinkel 

Early African American Pioneers Committee Direct Elect

  • Clarence "Fats" Jenkins

International Committee Direct Elect

  • Toni Kukoc

Veterans Committee Direct Elect

  • Bob Dandridge

Women's Veterans Committee Direct Elect

  • Pearl Moore

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