SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Former NBA stars Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Grant Hill headline the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class announced Saturday.
Other inductees include longtime college basketball coach Lefty Driesell, women’s basketball standouts Katie Smith and Tina Thompson, and four-time NBA All-Star Maurice Cheeks.
Kidd, a 10-time NBA All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection, is considered one of the best passers in NBA history. He finished his career second all-time in assists and steals and third all-time in triple-doubles. The 6-foot-4 point guard played for five different franchises and won a title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. He led the league in assists five times in his 19-year career and won two gold medals with the United States.
“It’s just very humbling, surreal, to have this opportunity to play a game that you love and to be honored with this class,” Kidd 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, a native of South Africa who grew up in Canada, is third among the NBA’s all-time assist leaders. He won the MVP award back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006, one of just 12 players to win multiple MVP awards. He made eight All-Star Games and was a seven-time All-NBA selection, including a first-team selection three times, while leading the league in assists on five occasions.
“This is an incredible feeling, obviously,” Nash 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.”
Nash has been serving as a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors and as general manager of the Canadian national team.
Allen is one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. He is the league’s all-time leader in career 3-point field goals made, in both the regular season and postseason. Allen won two NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, and made 10 All-Star Games. He was also a two-time All-NBA selection and won a gold medal in 2000. During his time at UConn, Allen won National Player of the Year honors in 1996.
“It’s a long journey” Allen 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.”
Hill, who shared Rookie of the Year honors with Kidd in the 1994-95 season, made seven All-Star appearances in his 19-year NBA career. Hill, a five-time All-NBA selection, is the first former Duke player to be selected to the Hall of Fame. One of the greatest players in Duke history, Hill was a two-time All-American and won two national championships with the Blue Devils.
Driesell, 86, is 11th all-time among the winningest men’s Division-I coaches in college basketball history. Driesell went to 13 NCAA tournaments, eight of them coming during his time at Maryland from 1969 to 1986. He won the NIT with the Terrapins in 1972. Driesell also was the head coach at Davidson, James Madison and Georgia State.
He’s also credited with creating Midnight Madness in 1971 at Maryland, allowing 3,000 fans to attend a public run three minutes after the official start of practice at midnight.
“I feel humble and grateful for all the players that played for me,” Driesell 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.”
Smith and Thompson are two of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time. Smith is the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball, playing in both the ABL and WNBA. She won three Olympic gold medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Thompson won four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets and was selected to the All-Star Game nine times. She won two Olympic gold medals.
Cheeks won an NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983 and helped lead them to two other NBA Finals trips. He earned four straight All-Defensive First Team selections and retired as the NBA’s all-time steals leader. Cheeks is currently fifth all-time in steals and 13th all-time in assists. He’s spent nine seasons as a head coach for three different franchises, reaching the playoffs three times.
The 2018 Hall of Fame class is rounded out by Rod Thorn, a longtime NBA executive and the general manager of the Chicago Bulls when they drafted Michael Jordan; Charlie Scott, a five-time All-Star who scored nearly 15,000 combined points in the ABA and NBA; Rick Welts, president of the Warriors; Dino Radja, one of FIBA’s 50 greatest players and a two-time EuroLeague champion who played for the Celtics; and Ora Mae Washington, a dominant basketball and tennis player whom Arthur Ashe once said “may have been the best female athlete ever.”
The full class will be inducted on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Massachusetts.